Peer Sexual Harassment Victimization Scale

Peer Sexual Harassment Victimization Scale

JENNIFER PETERSEN1 AND JANET SHIBLEY HYDEUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison

The purpose of this scale is to assess incidents of peer sexual harassment victimization among youth and to distinguish between same-gender and cross-gender harassment. Additionally, this scale identifies victims’ reactions to peer sexual harassment victimization.

Description

The Peer Sexual Harassment Victimization Scale consists of 15 different sexual behaviors that could be considered sexually harassing. Fourteen of these behaviors were taken from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) study on peer sexual harassment (1993, 2001). The fifteenth behavior, “called you a slut or a whore,” was added based on pilot interviews designed to discover sexually harassing behaviors that could be perpetrated by girls toward female victims. This scale does not ask victims to report their perceptions of sexual harassment. Instead, itasks whether specific behaviors have occurred and how upset participants were by the behaviors. Participants are asked to report the frequency of being victims of each behavior perpetrated by their peers during the past school year. For each behavior that is endorsed, participants are asked a series of follow-up questions, including how upset they were by the harassment, the gender of the perpetrator, and their reactions to the harassment. This scale was administered to a sample of 9th graders, but would be appropriate for other high school students and undergraduates as well.

Address correspondence to Jennifer Petersen, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Psychology Dept., 1202 W. Johnson St., Madison, WI 53706; e-mail: [email protected]

Response Mode and Timing

Although this scale may be administered as a paper-and- pencil questionnaire, we recommend the use of computer- assisted interviewing. This response mode may provide follow-up questions only when sexually harassing behaviors are endorsed, to avoid the confusion of skipping questions that are not applicable. Computer-assisted inter- views also increase respondents’ feelings of anonymity, thereby increasing accurate reporting. This scale is completed in approximately 15 minutes.

Scoring

Frequency of harassment is scored on a 0 (Never) to 3 (Several Times) scale. Frequency of all behaviors may be summed to obtain a frequency of harassment scale. Upset ratings for each behavior are scored from 0 (Not Upset) to 2 (Very Upset). Upset ratings for all behaviors may be summed to create a total upset score. Frequency of harass- ing behaviors may be multiplied by total upset score to obtain a weighted score of harassing events that caused distress.

Gender of the perpetrator may be compared to gen- der of the victim to assess same-gender and cross-gender sexual harassment. The responses “a girl” and “a group of girls” should be combined, and the responses “a boy” and “a group of boys” should be combined. Participants who responded “a group of boys and girls” may be analyzed separately or set to missing, if these responses are infrequent. Once these responses are combined, researchers may compare responses to victim’s gender to assess same- gender and cross-gender harassment. Harassment perpetrated by girl(s) is scored as 0 and harassment perpetrated by boy(s) is scored as 1 for each behavior. These variables should be multiplied by frequencies of each corresponding behavior to create frequency of cross-gender harassment for girl victims and frequency of same-gender harassment for boy victims. Gender of the perpetrator should then be rescored as 0 for harassment perpetrated by boy(s) and 1 for harassment perpetrated by girl(s) for each behavior. These variables should again be multiplied by frequency of each corresponding behavior to create frequency of same-gender harassment for girl victims and frequency of cross-gender harassment for boy victims. Frequencies of same-gender and cross-gender harassment for each behavior may be summed for both boys and girls to cre- ate the measure’s total frequency of same-gender and cross-gender harassment. Each reaction to harassment is coded as 0 (Not Experienced) and 1 (Experienced) for each behavior.

Reliability

Cronbach’s alpha for harassing behaviors = .87. Test-retest reliability for the behaviors was assessed by the AAUW (1993, 2001) with a correlation of .95.

Validity

Detailed information about construct validity and scale formation is reported by the AAUW (1993, 2001).

Peer Sexual Harassment Victimization Scale

Participant ID       Gender: M F

Below are some things that sometimes happen to kids at school. In the PAST SCHOOL YEAR how often did kids do these things to you? Circle your response.

  1. Made sexual comments, jokes, gestures, or looks.

Never Once A Few Times Several Times 1a. If more than “Never,” how upset were you by this?

Not at all Upset Somewhat Upset Very Upset 1b. The main time this happened, who did it to you?

A Girl A Boy Group of Girls Group of Boys Group of Boys and Girls

  1. c. How did this make you feel? (check all that apply)

Less sure of yourself/less confident

Confused about who you are

Doubt whether you have what it takes to graduate

Doubt whether you have what it takes to continue after graduation

Doubt whether you can have a happy relationship

Angry

Powerless

Flattered

Normal

Guilty/ashamed

Dirty

D Self-conscious Embarrassed Afraid/scared

        1. Showed, gave, or left you sexual pictures, photographs, illustrations, messages, or notes.

        2. Spread sexual rumors about you.

        3. Said you were gay or lesbian.

        4. Flashed or “mooned” you.

        5. Touched, grabbed, or pinched you in a sexual way.

        6. Intentionally brushed up against you in a sexual way.

        7. Pulled off or down your clothing.

        8. Forced you to kiss him or her.

        9. Forced you to do something sexual other than kissing.

        10. Called you a slut or whore.

        11. Stared at a sexual part of your body.

        12. Said something bad would happen to you if you did not engage in sexual relations.

        13. Pulled at your clothing in a sexual way.

        14. Blocked your way or cornered you in a sexual way.

The response options following this statement section are repeated for each of the remaining items.

References

American Association of University Women Educational Foundation (AAUW). (1993). Hostile hallways: Bullying, teasing, and sexual harassment in school. New York: Harris/Scholastic Research.

American Association of University Women Educational Foundation (AAUW). (2001). Hostile hallways: Bullying, teasing, and sexual harassment in school. New York: Harris/Scholastic Research.