Sociology ETDs

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Incidents of sexual harassment and bullying in secondary school are extremely commonplace, yet student experiences are underreported to school officials. Moreover, there are competing definitions regarding what constitutes sexual harassment among administrators, staff, and students. How does social identity influence incidents of sexual harassment and bullying in secondary schools? What kinds of sexual harassment and bullying occur and what are their consequences? How do gender, race/ethnicity, and class affect who is disciplined for sexual harassment and bullying? What role do peers and friends play in the choice to report an incident of sexual harassment? Two distinct school districts are compared, and mixed methodologies are utilized to begin to answer these questions. Disciplinary records for a 9th grade student population (N=777) are analyzed to explore harassment offenses. Student behavior handbooks are examined to garner official positions on sexual harassment and bullying. Administrator, staff, and student focus groups and interviews are assessed to examine discourses on and experiences with sexual harassment and bullying in secondary school. Overall, sexual harassment is not treated seriously within secondary schools. There is a low rate of officially recording sexual harassment and bullying offenses. Male and females students harass and female students perpetuate the sexual harassment of their female peers. Education is imperative and needs to incorporate all forms of harassment.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Lopez, Nancy

Second Committee Member

Galvan, Ruth Trinidad

Project Sponsors

The Sociological Initiatives Fund and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Bullying in schools, Sexual harassment in education, Sexual harassment of women, Feminist theory



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