How to Help Reduce Sexual Harassment on Campus

Reducing Sexual Harassment on Campus

Posted on 8 March 2016 |

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sexual harassment title ixTitle IX protects students from sex discrimination—which includes sexual violence. But did you know that Title IX also protects students from sexual harassment?

According to the National Women’s Law Center, Title IX states that schools must protect students from sexual harassment: unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on sex that makes students uncomfortable and prevents them from learning. The law bans sexual harassment by teachers, staff, fellow students, and visitors on school premises.

To help you reduce sexual harassment on your campus, we are going to answer the following questions:

  • How often do students experience sexual harassment?
  • What are some examples of sexual harassment?
  • How can schools reduce sexual harassment?

Prevalence of Sexual Harassment on Campus

In January, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released the final results of its nine-school pilot test, which was conducted to help develop a campus climate survey. And while the majority of the report focused on preventing sexual violence, the report did touch on the prevalence of sexual harassment concluding that on average 28 percent of females and 13.2 percent of males experienced sexual harassment.

However, another study conducted by Hollaback, a national network of activists focused on ending sexual harassment, found:

  • 67 percent of students experienced harassment on campus
  • 61 percent witnessed another student being harassed on college campus
  • 46 percent of students said harassment caused disappointment with college experience
  • 17 percent of students said that they reported harassment to a person of authority

Part of the reason it’s difficult to stop sexual harassment on campus is that offenders use many different tactics.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation’s report, “Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus,” extensively researched students’ perceptions of sexual harassment on campus.

The researchers identified examples of sexual harassment that students experienced including:

  • Sexual rumors spread about them
  • Sexual messages posted on the Internet
  • Someone spying on them as they showered or dressed
  • Authority figures asking for sexual favors in exchange for something
  • Someone making sexual comments, jokes or gestures

Also, the BJS report categorized the types of harassment female students experienced. Researchers found:

  • 90.9 percent experienced unwelcome sexual advances, gestures, comments, or jokes
  • 21.6 percent were shown or sent sexual photos or videos
  • 13.9 percent had sexual photos, videos or rumors about them were shared
  • 15.4 percent were flashed by someone
  • 4.6 percent were watched or had photos or videos taken of them while nude

To reduce instances of sexual harassment, higher education campuses can teach students about bystander intervention.

Preventing Sexual Harassment with Bystander Intervention

The majority of the time, people don’t do anything when they witness sexual harassment because they are afraid or because they assume someone else will do something—also known as the bystander effect.

But to prevent sexual harassment, students need to know how to safely intervene. Bystander intervention training teaches students what to do when they witness sexual violence—and sexual harassment. The training informs students there are many different ways to intervene including:

  • When they hear a friend telling a sexist joke, they can explain why it’s not okay.
  • If they see someone is being touched against their will, they can report the incident to the school authorities.
  • If they receive a sexually suggestive picture, they can delete it instead of sharing it.
  • They can refuse to participate in gossip surrounding other students’ sex-lives and sexual orientation.
  • They can support friends or classmates that have been sexually harassed by listening to their stories.

Bystander intervention training complements your existing anti-harassment policies and shows that there are ways for students to take action against sexual harassment.


Research shows that a large percentage of students have experienced sexual harassment—which comes in many different forms. To help prevent sexual harassment on campus, students can learn about bystander intervention.

For more information on our bystander intervention training, request a demo today.

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