Thursday, October 31, 2013

2013 Herkimer County TAP: Bullying and Sexual Harassment

The Herkimer County Teen Assessment Project(TAP) has asked several questions over the years about bullying. Generally speaking bully has been loosely conceived in the TAP survey as when a person feels constantly teased, threatened or harassed by another person or group of people. This can happen in face-to-face situations as well as through online/electronic means. 

Since first asking the question "Do you feel constantly teased, threatened or harassed by other youth?" in 2001, there does appear to have been a significant decline in the percentage of teens saying they they have felt bullied. Between 2001 and 2005, the percentage of teens answering "yes" to this question actually rose from 18% to 20%. Since then, there has been a significant decline, with only 14% of teens in 2013 saying that they have ever felt bullied. 
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One of the biggest concerns expressed by experts in the field has been the proliferation of electronic means of bullying. Given teens' internet and electronic footprint (see this post about TAP data concerning teens use of the internet and cell phones) has grown so much over the last several years, a question was incorporated into the last two TAP surveys about electronic bullying. In 2013, about one out of every seven teens (15%) said that they had been electronically bullied through emails, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites, or texting. This is down from 23% in 2009. Teens that had ever shared nude or seminude pictures of themselves were two and a half times more likely to have said that they had been electronically bullied. 

Sometimes this bullying may take the form of sexual harassment. Fewer teens among the 2013 respondents were subject to sexual harassment and unwanted sexual contact than in the past. While almost a third (32%) reported being sexually harassed in 2005, the percentage in 2013 dropped to 18%.

Unfortunately that sexual harassment sometimes has translated into sexual assault. While it has declined over the years, it is still a disturbingly high percentage of teens that have been subjected to such physical contact. While nearly one out of every five teens (18%) in 2005 reported they had been subject to some form of unwanted physical/sexual contact, such as kissing, touching or forced intercourse, in 2013, this percentage had dropped to about 13% of teens reporting similar unwanted sexual contact.

Based on the 2013 TAP Survey, about one out of every six girls (17%) were sexually harassed.  This is statistically significantly better than in 2009 when 22% of all girls responded that they had been sexually harassed. Unfortunately, the survey still found that one out of every 35 female respondents (2.8%) indicated they had been raped (i.e. had unwanted sexual intercourse). This is identical to the 2009 data.

Approximately one in 14 teens (7%) reported being subject to boyfriend/girlfriend physical abuse. While not statistically significant, it is worth noting that males more often reported being hit or physically abused by girlfriends than vice versa - 8% of males versus 5.8% of females reported this.