It is estimated that 25% to 30% of college students report experiences of sexual harass­ment (Menard et al., 2003). Sexual harassment on campus usually involves sexist com­ments, jokes, or touching, and the majority of students do not report it (Menard et al., 2003). Federal law prohibits the sexual harassment of college students, and victims of


Incidence and Reporting of Harassment

sex byte

Cross-cultural studies on attitudes about sexual harassment have found that students from individualist countries (such as the United States, Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands) are less accepting of sexual harassment, whereas students from collectivist countries (such as Ecuador, Pakistan, the Phillippines, Taiwan, and Turkey) are more accepting (Sigal et al., 2005).

sexual harassment can sue their schools for damages for sexual harassment (Hogan, 2005).

In the United States, sexual harassment has increased in the past few years, proba­bly in relation to the increase in women in the workforce. Because of sexual harassment, women are nine times more likely than men to quit a job, five times more likely to trans­fer, and three times more likely to lose their jobs (Parker & Griffin, 2002). Although the majority of people who are sexually harassed are female, it can also happen to men. Same-sex harassment also occurs (Foote & Goodman-Delahunty, 2005).

As we have discussed, many victims of sexual harassment never say anything to au­thorities, although they may tell a friend. This may be in part because women are social­ized to keep harmony in relationships. Others verbally confront the offender or leave their jobs in order to get away from it. Assertiveness is the most effective strategy, either by telling someone about it or confronting the offender. Many fear, however, that con­fronting a boss or teacher who is harassing them could jeopardize their jobs or their grades. Also, although these strategies increase the chances that the behavior will stop, they do not guarantee it. If you are being sexually harassed by someone in a university set­ting, the best advice is to talk to a counselor or your advisor about it. Remember that you are protected by federal law. Colleges and universities today will not tolerate the sexual harassment of any student, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.

Women and men think differently about sexual harassment. In one study, females were more likely than males to experience sexual harassment and to perceive it as harm­ful (Hand & Sanchez, 2000). Researchers have found that a behavior might be inter­preted as sexual harassment by a woman, whereas it’s interpreted as flattering to a man (Lastella, 2005).


Define sexual harassment, explain its effects, and identify strategies to prevent it.

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