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The Problem

 

  1. Nearly half of students in grades 7-12 reported experiencing sexual harassment in the previous year and 87% describe negative effects such as absenteeism and poor sleep.  CITE

  2. Approximately 1 in 3 teenage girls in the US is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. CITE

  3. Among high school students nationwide, 11.8% of females and 4.5% of males have been forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to. CITE

  4. Middle and High-School aged youth (12- 19 year-olds) experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault. CITE However, there are few resources available to them.

 

Fineran, Susan, and James E Gruber. 2009. Youth at work: Adolescent employment and sexual harassment. Child abuse & neglect 33, no. 8: 550-559.


The Impact of Sexual Harassment on Education

More than bullying, sexual harassment:

  • erodes school engagement                                                          
  • alienates students from their teachers
  • breaks down relationships among students
  • negatively affects academic achievement

However, it is less likely to be addressed by educators and administrators.

Sexual harassment, bullying and assault are widespread, however, most adults and youth lack the knowledge and resources to prevent, respond to and resolve them.”

 

Emerging Issues Facing Tweens and Teens

Today, tweens and teens are in greater need of adult support, guidance and intervention.

They face issues related to:

  • Media use & Technology

  • Cyberbullying, “Slut-Shaming”, and “Revenge Porn”

  • A feeling that it is “Picture Day, Every Day” (-Devornah Heitner)

  • Relationship violence through devices

  • Pressure for nude pictures and other sexual harassment

 

What Can Be Done

The Role of Adults

Adult educators and parents are often overwhelmed and underprepared to handle these issues, leaving tweens and teens to deal with them. Young people cannot be left on their own to deal with these issues. Educators, parents and community members can equip themselves to effectively communicate with and support youth and to create healthier and safer school, home and community environments. 

The Role of Youth

Due to shifting attitudes and increased access to media at much younger ages, there is a greater need to develop efforts to empower youth to gain the tools to develop self-knowledge, to build positive identities, and to make healthy relationship choices. 

The Need for Relation-Shift

Although they face the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, their are very few services available to middle and high school aged youth and few resources available to the adults in their lives. Relation-Shift works side-by-side with schools and communities to provide customized assessments, trainings, workshops, planning services and technical support designed to address the school and community’s unique needs, OR to prevent violence and to establish healthy identities and behaviors.

 

 

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