A study of peer sexual harassers in metropolitan Nashville public high schools

Sarah Henderson King, Tennessee State University


The purpose of this study was to determine which factors affect a student's choice to sexually harass his or her peers. This research examined the role that (a) grade point average, (b) attitudes concerning gender roles, (c) the student's own experience with harassing behavior, and (d) the student's rationale for engaging in sexually harassing behavior play in the dynamic of public high school peer sexual harassment. Data gathered for this study were collected by means of an American Association of University Women survey, the Attitude toward Women Scale for Adolescents, and student records for grade-point average. Data selected for this study were obtained from the surveys of students who identified themselves as having engaged in sexual harassment. Results were obtained from four of the seven requested schools. Of the four schools that did participate, two schools had smaller populations with mean ACT scores of 17 and 20.2. A third school was a medium-sized school with a mean ACT score of 18.6, and the fourth school was a large population school with a mean ACT of 19.4. This study was limited because it depended on self-reporting by adolescents who volunteered to participate and whose parents consented. It examined sexually harassing behavior only in the schools that agreed to participate. These schools were selected on the basis of population size and mean standardized test scores. Data collection was also limited by teachers who agreed to participate. Findings. Findings of this study were as follows: (1) Peer perpetrators of sexual harassment had significantly higher grade-point averages than their school mean. (2) The majority of peer perpetrators had less traditional gender-role stereotypes. (3a) Perpetrators were significantly more likely than nonperpetrators to have experienced sexual harassment as a victim. (3b) Perpetrators were significantly more likely to have been victimized by a peer than by someone else. (4) Perpetrators were significantly more likely to choose the rationale of perceived normalcy of sexual harassment than any other rationale.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Educational sociology|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Sarah Henderson King, "A study of peer sexual harassers in metropolitan Nashville public high schools" (1999). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3007611.