, Volume 58, Issue 7-8, pp 477-489

Everyday Victimization of Adolescent Girls by Boys: Sexual Harassment, Bullying or Aggression?

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Abstract

School-based sexual harassment of adolescent girls by boys appears commonplace, yet aggression and bullying studies rarely yield sexualized material. This qualitative Australian study with 72 14- to 15-year-olds and 7 teachers aimed to discover whether interviewer use of neutral language in gender-segregated focus groups and interviews would yield material indicating that the victimization of girls by boys is sexualized. Verbal and indirect victimization were reported to be everyday occurrences, and almost entirely sexual. Findings are discussed in the light of definitions of sexual harassment, bullying and aggression. It is concluded that the term “sexual bullying” appropriately captures the gendered power structure underlying these behaviors. As such, they need to be understood, and become visible, more broadly than in terms of individual pathology.