Nearly 90 per cent of young women in US have experienced sexual harassment, report finds

Young people struggling to form and maintain healthy and fulfilling romantic relationships and deal with widespread misogyny and sexual harassment, study reveals

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The Independent US

Nearly 90 per cent of young women in the US have experienced some form of sexual harassment during their lifetime, according to a new report.  

Despite the high number, the research carried out by the prestigious Harvard Graduate School of Education found that many weren't talking to their parents or educators about the issue. 

The study, based on a survey of more than 3,000 18 to 25-year-olds across the US, found that 87 per cent of young women reported having experienced some form of sexual harassment during their lifetime.

However, more than three quarters (76 per cent) of its respondents, both male and female, had never had a conversation with their parents about how to avoid sexually harassing others.

More than half (56 per cent) of respondents meanwhile said they had never spoken with their parents about the importance of not pressuring someone to have sex, while an even higher proportion (62 per cent) had not spoken to their parents about the importance of not continuing to ask someone to have sex after they have said no.

It also found that third of young men think they should be dominant in relationships. 

Among all the respondents, 48 per cent either agreed or were neutral about the idea that “society has reached a point that there is no more double standards against women", while 39 per cent said it was “rare to see a woman treated in an inappropriately sexualized manner on television.”

The report also suggests that many young people struggle to develop healthy romantic relationships, due to the fact that both teens and adults tend to greatly overestimate the percentage of young people who are hooking up or having casual sex. This can lead to many teenagers and young adults feeling pressured to engage in sex when they are not interested or ready, it warned. 

The authors of the report recommend that adults need to “identify for teens common forms of misogyny and harassment”, such as catcalling or using gender-based slurs, and that they should to “talk to teens specifically about what respect and care concretely mean in any type of romantic relationship”.

 Dr Richard Weissbourd, the study's lead author, said: "We hope that this report is a real wake-up call.

“While adults, and parents in particular, wring their hands about the 'hook-up culture,' research indicates that far fewer young people are hooking up than is commonly believed.

“This focus on the hook-up culture also obscures two much bigger issues that our research suggests many young people are struggling with: forming and maintaining healthy and fulfilling romantic relationships and dealing with widespread misogyny and sexual harassment.

“Unfortunately, we also found that most adults appear to be doing very little to address these serious problems."