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Schools full of sexual harassment.

Parents and school administrators should become informed of the sexual harassment issue through awareness and action, indicates Robert J. Shoop, professor of educational administration, Kansas State University. In a 1993 survey of 1,632 randomly selected public school students in grades eight through 11, 85% of female and 76% of male students said they have experienced some form of sexual harassment during their school lives.

"While this revelation is in itself disconcerting, the long-term consequences of this aberrant and hostile behavior are even more shocking. They are extreme in the devastation of our daughters. They are extreme in the dysfunctional an counterproductive manner in which our sons are socialized to relate to their mothers, sisters, wives, female friends, and co-workers."

The majority of cases in schools is student to student, but 25% of harassed girls and 10% of harassed boys accused teachers or other school employees. Of the girls who reported sexual harassment, many said their academic participation and performance dropped after they were harassed. They stated that they no longer looked forward to going to school or to taking as much in class. In addition, many found it difficult to pay attention and suffered lower grades on papers and tests. Most said that sexual harassment made them feel upset; almost half reported feeling self-conscious or less self-confident.

"We need to see sexual harassment for what it really is: flash point in the continuum of contentious relations between men and women, boys and girls. It is critical to understand that sexual harassment does not occur in a vacuum," Shoop points out. He defines sexual harassment as any unwanted attention of a sexual nature that makes the educational environment hostile. It could be administrator to teacher, teacher to teacher, teacher to student, student to student, or student to teacher.

Shoop stresses the need for eliminating sexual harassment from educational institutions for several reasons. The most vulnerable, and there should be no reason that children should feel unsafe and afraid. "No one has the right to cause harm, humiliation, or to threaten another person. Our students need to be taught they have a right to be free from sexual harassment. They have a right to complain if they are sexually harassed and have the right to be helped to extinguish the problem."
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Mar 1, 1994
Words:380
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