Sexual harassment of girls also upsets boys

May 13th, 2008 - 2:30 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, May 13 (IANS) Most boys are quite distressed when they see frequent harassment of girls, a new study has found. The University of Illinois study found boys also felt unsafe and experienced lowered self-esteem in a climate that tolerates such practices.

The study surveyed 300 girls and 250 boys from seven US public high schools on peer-to-peer sexual harassment, school climate, adult-to-student harassment and outcomes for the students.

The study found that girls had more upsetting experiences of peer harassment. They also reported more frequent and distressing harassment from school personnel than boys.

Male students reported fewer, less upsetting experiences of harassment. Consequently, they had fewer stress-related consequences directly associated with harassment.

For boys, a climate tolerating the harassment of girls, was the major variable associated with negative psychological, health and educational outcomes.

Given that boys are harassed less frequently and rate their experiences as less upsetting, these findings suggest that boys may suffer negative consequences regardless of whether they are the targets of harassment.

“We hope these findings inform teachers, administrators, and policymakers for high schools when they develop policy and procedures related to sexual harassment,” the study noted.

“When students believe that teachers and administrators do not actively intervene in harassing behaviour toward girls, it has negative consequences for all students: both boys and girls, and targets and non-targets.”

Findings of the study are slated for publication in the June issue of the Psychology of Women Quarterly.

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