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School Sexual Harassment: Underreported and Ignored

Experts say that the scope of the problem of harassment in public K-12 classrooms is large, but a dearth of research exists on the topic. That’s in part because of confidentiality rules that surround both investigations and their findings. The consequences are serious. “Quite frankly, everything can get called bullying,” said Nan Stein, senior research scientist at the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center at Wellesley College. “It’s such a large category that you can drive a truck through it. Schools just love to call everything bullying, because it moves them away from the discourse of rights and it de-genders the issue. There’s not enough attention paid to what gets cast as normative conduct that is really sexual harassment.”