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School Climate Moderates the Association Between Sexual Harassment and Student Well-Being

NCJ Number
School Mental Health Dated: 2021
B. Z. Crowley; et al
Date Published

The reported study examined whether school-climate measures of disciplinary structure, student support, and engagement moderated the relationship between sexual harassment and student well-being.


Sexual harassment is a prevalent yet understudied challenge adolescents face in high school. Because sexual harassment is associated with negative well-being indicators such as depression, substance use, and suicidality, school stakeholders must understand and address its potential consequences for student well-being and how school climate might impact prevention efforts. In the current study, a statewide survey of 85,750 students (grades 9–12) in 322 high schools determined how many times in the past school year students had experienced sexual harassment. Participants also reported school-climate perceptions and measures of well-being, including indicators of depression symptoms, substance use, and suicide attempts. Findings indicated that positive perceptions of school climate moderated the relations between sexual harassment experiences and student well-being. The findings from this study will provide valuable information for school stakeholders as they seek to mitigate the impact of sexual harassment in schools. (publisher abstract modified)