Current: Sexual harassment a problem in schools

By Cynthia Bruno |

Published 05/29 2014 12:04PM

Updated 05/29 2014 12:25PM

CENTRAL ILLINOIS--Three of four central Illinois middle school students say they're being touched inappropriately at school. 

University of Illinois Professor, Dorothy Espelage studies sexual harassment in schools. She says the problem is growing.
"It tends to be the boys inappropriately touching the girls. Three percent of the population, actually, girls have reported that it's gone onto touching of the genitals as well," she says.

Latoya Anthony is a parent of two children in the Champaign School District.
She's worried about what goes on at school. 
"I pray every day. When my kids walk out the door, I get on my hands and knees and I pray God will look over my kids, since I can't do it," she says. 

Espelage says her research shows that central Illinois teachers and schools are brushing this problem under the rug. 
"What was remarkable in this study, is that when it was happening kids said it was predominately happening in the classrooms and that's where teachers are supposed to be monitoring their behaviors. Even if you asked teachers what the definition of sexual harassment is, they would not know it," she says. 
"That's not good, they should be fired," says Anthony. 

Kids also say say they're experiencing other types of sexual harassment like people spreading sexual rumors or making sexual comments.  
Anthony says this problem is not new. 
"It's been happening since we've been growing up, and when we was growing up nothing was done about it," she says. 

Anthony says now it's time for parents and schools to step forward and stop the problem.
"We weren't protected, and we need to show other parents how to protect their kids," she says. 

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