Young people endure widespread sexual harassment – report

Up to 80 per cent of adolescents experience sexual harassment in a 12 month period, with a quarter reporting sexual violence. 

These are among shocking findings contained in a report: Storm and Stress: An Exploration of Sexual Harassment Amongst Adolescents commissioned by Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI).

The study focused on the previous 12-month period of the young peoples’ lives. The research comprised of data from 599 adolescents who completed a questionnaire, interviews with 93 adolescents, and interviews with 21 youth workers.

Some of the headline findings are:

• 80% disclosed being subjected to some form of sexual harassment

• 24% disclosed that they were subjected to physical or extreme forms of sexual harassment

• 83% witnessed some form of sexual harassment

• 28% witnessed physical or extreme forms of sexual harassment

• 78% participants said harassment occurred within their peer community

• 100% All of the youth workers who participated in the study stated that they had witnessed sexual harassment with levels varying from verbal to extreme forms of sexual harassment

• 57% of youth workers experienced sexual harassment from adolescents while at work

• 68% of LGBT+ participants experienced serious sexual harassment compared with 20% of the whole population

• 47% did not know how to report sexual harassment within their school

Clíona Saidléar, executive director of the RCNI said in the Irish Times that the report closed a data gap and showed “the sheer scale of the prevalence and the severity of the experiences of adolescents with sexual violence. 

“Those same adolescents have told us they want and believe change is possible. We need to help them create that safer world for the generations coming behind them”.