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School Climate Moderates the Association Between Sexual Harassment and Student Well-Being

An Author Correction to this article was published on 26 July 2021

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Sexual harassment is a prevalent yet understudied challenge adolescents face in high school. Because sexual harassment is associated with negative well-being indicators like depression, substance use, and suicidality, school stakeholders must understand its potential consequences for student well-being, and how school climate might impact prevention efforts. The present study investigated whether school climate measures of disciplinary structure, student support, and engagement moderate the relationship between sexual harassment and student well-being. A statewide survey of 85,750 students (grades 9–12) in 322 high schools reported how many times in the past school year they had experienced sexual harassment. Participants also reported school climate perceptions and measures of well-being, including indicators of depression symptoms, substance use, and suicide attempts. Findings indicated that positive perceptions of school climate moderated the relations between sexual harassment experiences and student well-being. The findings from this study will provide valuable information for school stakeholders as they seek to mitigate the impact of sexual harassment in schools.

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This project was supported in part by grant #NIJ 2017-CK- BX-007 awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice. The findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this manuscript are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the US Department of Justice or the Center for School and Campus Safety at the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.

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Correspondence to Brittany Z Crowley.

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The original online version of this article was revised: The original version of this article unfortunately contained a mistake. On page 11, the paragraphs “Data Availability” and “Code Availability” should be removed. They say that both the code and data are available upon request from the corresponding author, but upon reviewing the terms of the study IRB it became clear that the author actually cannot share the code or data. The original article has been corrected.

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Crowley, B.Z., Cornell, D. & Konold, T. School Climate Moderates the Association Between Sexual Harassment and Student Well-Being. School Mental Health 13, 695–706 (2021).

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  • Sexual harassment
  • School climate
  • Depression
  • Substance use
  • Suicide