Middle-school boys who bully their peers are 4.6 times more likely to commit sexual harassment two years later, and those who participate in homophobic teasing are 1.6 times more likely to do the same, according to a new study by the University of Illinois and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study, in which researchers surveyed more than 970 students at six middle schools, supports the existence of a “bully-sexual violence pathway.”
The researchers say that some bullies sexually harass their peers because they are insecure about their sexuality and feel a need to “prove” to peers that they are heterosexual.
The link between bullying and sexual harassment may represent a developmental pathway for some bullies and calls for stronger prevention and intervention efforts in schools, ...
“School officials and parents are uncomfortable about addressing any topics related to sex and often choose to ignore the gender-based name-calling, sexual jokes, and other forms of sexual harassment, even though these behaviors are clearly unwanted and distressing to victims,” Espelage said.
“Most anti-bullying curricula don’t cover sexual victimization either, which implies to kids that these behaviors may be normal or OK. Normalizing or dismissing these behaviors creates a hostile environment and perpetuates the cycle of sexual aggression.” [emphasis mine]