Breaking the Silence: Experiencing and Witnessing Sexual Harassment at UNRWA Schools in Bethlehem City, Palestine
Ghrayeb, Farid A.W.
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Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem affecting nearly half of all students over the course of their academic lives. Far less is known about the past experience and witness of students being subjected to Sexual harassment. The aim of the study was to assess the student’s past witness and experience with different forms of sexual harassment at UNRWA schools in Bethlehem city. A descriptive cross-sectional design was adopted in this study. Four UNRWA schools (two males and two female schools) were selected randomly from Bethlehem City. A sample of 241 students from 7 through 9 grade at the four schools th th were included in the study. The study tool was a pre-designed questionnaire containing questions on past exposure to 19 items and witness to 25 items covering three forms of sexual harassment (physical, verbal and visual). Results revealed that, the vast majority of middle school students are both SH targets and witnesses, where the most frequent type of SH was visual/verbal SH, followed by physical SH. The results also indicated a significant association between gender of the participant and SH. Witnessing and experiencing SH has a negative impact on school aged children’s physical, social, cognitive and emotional development. Students who have been exposed to SH need to be helped to go over the abuse and empowered with safety plans to take when they next encounter similar situations. The study calls for holding anti- harassment awareness campaigns to raise the awareness of students on sexual harassment in Palestine.