When we hear the word “harassment”, we usually get the image of unwanted actions of an employer towards an employee, or a senior colleague towards an inferior one, usually male-on-female. There is, however, the whole layer of the problem that takes place in various educational institutions and has a somewhat different nature.
Sexual harassment in the sphere of education is any kind of unwelcomed sexual activity that interferes with a student’s studies or participation in other activities. Although in other spheres of human life harassment is usually performed by the victim’s superiors, harassment in education is mostly (about 90%) is of student-on-student type, although the one perpetrated by teachers, professors or other school employees does also exist.
The goals of harassment are different as well. Usually there is no real inclination of having sexual relations with the victim whatsoever – the most major reason for sexually offending behavior is that the perpetrator considers it to be amusing – either for himself or for the other students. Only a small minority of students denounced for harassment say that they did it because wanted to draw attention of the victim and, probably, date with her/him. Many researchers, however, are of the opinion that it is not a real reason, the true motive being the wish to assert one’s authority and power, to make others fear him/herself – i.e., simple bullying with sexual implication.
Although it may not seem all that serious, many researchers consider sexual harassment in education to be a grave matter indeed for, according to them, it influences students’ life greatly and causes a lot of negative effects on the ones who have been its victims. There are, naturally, a lot of organizations and initiatives set on fighting and preventing this kind of behavior, though it is hard to say how successful they are.