University of Vermont

College of Education and Social Sciences

Doctoral Programs in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Erin Donovan: Peer Sexual Harassment in College: The Relationship with Status and College Adjustment (2013-09-16)

Donovan, Erin | Waterman 527, Phi Beta Kappa | 2013-09-16 | 10:00 a.m.

This study examined the prevalence and predictors of peer sexual harassment among college undergraduates (ages 18-25) at a public university in New England.  Participants (N= 147) completed online self-report measures of sexual harassment victimization and perpetration, adjustment to college, self-perceived peer liking, self-perceived popularity, and self-perceived dating popularity. Results showed that 74.8% of students reported perpetrating sexual harassment behaviors against a peer at least once since arriving at school, and 82.6% of students reporting being victimized by sexual harassment from a peer since arriving at school.  Logistic regression analysis showed that self-perceived peer liking, popularity, and dating popularity predicted peer sexual harassment perpetration, and dating popularity also predicted peer sexual harassment victimization.  Simple regression showed that students’ adjustment to college was not predicted by sexual harassment victimization or perpetration.  These results suggest that peer sexual harassment is very common among college peers, and is related to measures of social status.  Despite the commonality of peer sexual harassment at college, it does not appear to influence students’ adjustment to school, perhaps because its commonality has led it to be normalized. 

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