Survey says 20% of educators suffer sexual harassment or assault in the workplace
- A quarter of female educators and 6% of male educators have faced sexual harassment or assault in the workplace, while 40% have either been the victim or have witnessed such incidents, Education Week reports.
- Experts say that “permissive school cultures where abusers are not punished, as well as power differentials between early-career teachers and their superiors, create situations that can be ripe for abuse” and nearly 60% of educators who have witnessed or experienced sexual harassment or assault in the workplace fail to report it, often for fear of negative effects on their career or safety.
- However, sexual harassment appears to be less of an issue for educators than in many other professions as 91% of educators who had worked in other fields said sexual harassment was more common in those arenas.
This most recent survey by Education Week closely mirrors the results of a 2015 survey by Cosmopolitan magazine in which 23% of educators who responded said they had been sexually harassed in the workplace. According to the Cosmopolitan survey, schools ranked among the places where workers were least likely to be sexually harassed. Overall, one in three respondents to that survey of women ages 18-34 reported that they had been sexually harassed in the workplace, with women in the food service and construction industries facing the most reported harassment.
Sexual harassment of students by other students at school still remains a critical problem. Of even greater concern, roughly 10% of K-12 students are victims of educator sexual harassment or abuse according to Stop Educator Sexual Abuse and Misconduct and Exploitation (S.E.S.A.M.E) and between 1% and 5% of educators engage in sexual abuse or harassment of students, according to the Counter Pedophilia Investigative Unit.
The ramifications of sexual harassment in schools, whether of teachers or students, should be a cause for concern to all administrators, not only because of the damage inflicted, but also because of the legal ramifications which are even stronger in schools because of Title IX regulations. Administrators need to be aware of current guidelines regarding sexual harassment and abuse claims, be vigilant in hiring practices, and be mindful of potential problems that arise. Better communication between school leaders can also help prevent the transition of sexual predators from one school to another. Though the problem of sexual harassment has long been an issue, in the current environment and with the current shortage of teachers, administrators need to work harder to provide a safe place for teachers and students to work and learn.