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Authoritative School Climate and Sexual Harassment: A Cross-Sectional Multilevel Analysis of Student Self-Reports

NCJ Number
School Psychology Volume: 34 Issue: 5 Dated: 2019 Pages: 469-478
Date Published
September 2019
10 pages

This study examined issues related to sexual harassment (SH) at school, defined as unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that interferes with a student's ability to learn.


The study sought to answer the following questions: (a) Is there psychometric support for a four-item multilevel measure of SH? (b) What is the prevalence of SH in a statewide high school sample, and how does SH vary across gender, grade level, race-ethnicity, and socioeconomic status? (c) Is an authoritative school climate -- defined as strict but fair discipline and supportive teacher-student relationships -- associated with lower levels of SH for students? A statewide sample of high school students (N = 62,679) completed a school-climate survey that included a new four-item measure of SH. Results of a multilevel confirmatory factor analysis indicated a good fit for a single SH factor at both student and school levels. A multiway analysis of variance demonstrated the high prevalence of SH and variations across demographic groups. Multilevel hierarchical regression analyses indicated that an authoritative school climate accounted for 5.7 percent of the student-level variance and 38.3 percent of the school-level variance in SH scores. Routine assessment of SH can help school psychologists bring attention to this under-recognized problem. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: September 1, 2019