In his column today on Townhall.com, Dennis Prager points to a new study that claims 90% of teens have been sexually harassed. Why are the numbers so high? The trouble lies in an overlybroad definition of sexual harassment:
…”sexual harassment” is so all-inclusive as to be largely meaningless: “sexist comments about their academic abilities, sexist comments about their athletic abilities unwanted romantic attention, demeaning gender-related comments, teasing based on their appearance, and unwanted physical contact.”
If a girls bra is snapped in elementary or high school; if a girl is told she should learn to throw a ball “like a guy does”; if a boy pursues a girl and fails in his pursuit — these are all instances of sexism and sexual harassment.
A few years back, I pointed out similar problems with a AAUW study on sexual harassment. Of course, if you label everything “sexual harassment” you shouldn’t be surprised to find high levels of sexual harassment. Unfortunately for people who like to make these type of studies, sexual harassment has a clear definition, as discussed in this IWF policy paper. Labeling things as “sexual harassment” that aren’t actual harassment does a disservice to a very serious issue.