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Volume 16, Number 1
January/February 2000

“Sexual Harassment Erodes the Notion That School Is a Safe Place”

An Interview with Nan Stein


In recent years, a number of highly publicized lawsuits and incidents have heightened awareness of sexual harassment in schools. In the newly published Classrooms and Courtrooms: Facing Sexual Harassment in K-12 Schools (Teachers College Press), Nan Stein examines the roots of sexual harassment—and how to uproot it from our schools. Stein is a senior researcher and project director at Wellesley College's Center for Research on Women in Wellesley, MA. She is also a former middle-school teacher

HEL: What responses to sexual harassment do you find especially problematic?

STEIN: One of the worst, I think, is making the subject of the harassment confront the harasser. That should be an option, but it should never be a requirement. That puts the burden of changing the harasser's behavior on the kid who was the target of the harassment. The burden has to be on the grownups.

For that same reason, I am not in favor of students mediating without an adult around. I'm not sure that student mediators can be immune from peer pressure. To think that kids can ignore those pressures is a little foolhardy.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

N. Stein. Classrooms and Courtrooms: Facing Sexual Harassment in K-12 Schools. New York: Teachers College Press, 1999.

N. Stein. "Sexual Harassment in School: The Public Performance of Gendered Violence." Harvard Educational Review 65:2 (Summer 1995): 145-162.