The current study examined the effects of longitudinal changes in gendered harassment perpetration and victimization on changes in mental health outcomes among a large sample of early adolescents.
Gendered harassment, including sexual harassment and homophobic name-calling, is prevalent in adolescents and is linked to negative outcomes including depression, anxiety, suicidality, substance abuse, and personal distress. However, much of the extant literature is cross-sectional and rarely are perpetrators of these behaviors included in studies of outcomes. Given that these behaviors commonly occur in the context of a patriarchal society (males hold power), we also investigated the impact of gender on gendered harassment. Participants included 3,549 students from four Midwestern middle schools (50.4% female, 49% African American, 34% White) at two time points (13 and 17 years old). Results indicated that increases from age 13 to 17 years in sexual harassment perpetration and victimization and homophobic name-calling perpetration and victimization predicted increases in depression symptoms and substance use. Gender did not moderate these pathways. These findings highlight that negative outcomes are associated with changes in gendered harassment among adolescents and emphasize the importance of prevention efforts. Implications for school interventions are discussed. (Publisher Abstract Provided)