JOURNAL ARTICLE

Peer sexual harassment victimization at school: the roles of student characteristics, cultural affiliation, and school factors

Shalhevet Attar-Schwartz
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 2009, 79 (3): 407-20
19839678
This study examines the links between students' reports of sexual harassment victimization by peers and a number of individual and school contextual factors. It is based on a nationally representative sample of 16,604 students in Grades 7 through 11 in 327 schools across Israel who completed questionnaires during class. Hierarchical Linear Modeling was used to examine the links. Overall, approximately one in four students (25.6%) were victims of at least one unwanted and unwelcome act of harassment by peers (such as being touched or pinched in sexual manner) in the prior month. The most vulnerable groups were Israeli-Arab boys and students with negative perceptions of their school climate. The school correlates associated with higher levels of victimization were a higher share of students with less-educated parents, larger schools and classrooms, and negative school climate. The interactions between gender and school-related factors indicate that the gender patterns are different for Israeli-Arab and Jewish schools and for schools with different concentrations of students' families with low socioeconomic status. The study emphasizes the need for an ecological perspective in addressing school-based sexual harassment.

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