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Open Access Publications from the University of California

It's Not Easy Being a Girl in a Man's World: The Daily Experience of Sexual Harassment for Adolescent Girls


Girls experience sexual harassment every day in middle school. This harassment does not just affect a few girls- 90 percent of girls share this experience. More than half of all girls have been called a nasty or demeaning name or teased about their appearance by a male. Slightly fewer girls have been told a mean or embarrassing joke about their gender or sexuality. By high school, the harassment is more frequent and more extreme. By the end of high school, one-quarter of all girls have been teased, threatened, or bullied by a male and one-half have been touched or grabbed against their wishes by a male. These findings from a recent study (Leaper and Brown, 2007) of six hundred ethnically and geographically diverse middle school and high school girls highlight the difficult and complicated world girls learn to navigate as they enter adolescence.

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