School Violence in Context: Culture, Neighborhood, Family, School, and Gender

By Rami Benbenishty; Ron Avi Astor | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Sexual Harassment

The findings we present in this chapter strongly suggest that victimization by sexual harassment shows different patterns of relationships from other forms of school victimization, which is the major reason we address sexual harassment in a separate chapter. By doing so, we can present some of the distinct features and patterns more comprehensively.

From a theoretical standpoint, sexual harassment is considered a unique form of victimization because, though it shares some commonalties with other forms of school violence, it has characteristics that are quite different (Zeira, Astor, & Benbenishty, 2002). Theoretical discussions and empirical studies on sexual harassment have reflected this complexity. For example, in the school violence literature, sexual harassment is often described as one of many behaviors considered to be part of school violence and student victimization. Yet, surprisingly, other than the data generated from the study in this book, no national study of school violence has explored sexual harassment itself, let alone in conjunction with the many other forms of school violence. Therefore, theorists have very little empirical data concerning within- or cross-cultural prevalence rates of sexual harassment in schools.

Furthermore, the sexual harassment literature demonstrates very little consensus about the theoretical roots of sexual harassment in schools and its connectedness to other forms of sexualized violence (Lee, Croninger, Linn, & Chen, 1996). Some researchers have speculated that sexual harassment is a precursor to dating violence and/or domestic violence later in life (Molidor & Tolman, 1998). Pellegrini (2001) presents a developmental perspective on sexual harassment in schools, suggesting a trend in which, as adolescents move from same-gender groups into cross-gender relationships, they engage in early courtship behaviors that include sexual harassment behaviors.

Others argue that sexual harassment is part of a larger cultural patriarchal pattern and is a reflection of the society’s mores and views toward male-female rela

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