Sexual Bullying in Georgia

Research has captured the frequency, scope, and many faces of sexual bullying. The Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault (GNESA), funded by a grant from the Georgia Department of Public Health, began examining sexual bullying among Georgia’s youth in 2010.

GNESA traveled the state and conducted 22 focus groups with adolescent males (11 to 14 years old) and the adults who influence them. That research sought to better understand Georgians opinions about sexual bullying. From rural and urban communities to those in between, the Georgia-specific insight gained was tremendous and validated key findings from national research.

  • Although most adolescents could not define “sexual harassment” or “sexual assault,” most could describe behaviors they had witnessed that clearly fell within the continuum of those behaviors.
  • Touching and groping, sexual rumors (especially among girls), and bullying of perceived LGBT youth (especially boys) were among the most frequently reported acts with many participants stating this type of behavior was a “daily” or “almost every day” occurrence at their schools.
  • Participants overwhelmingly reported the school and school-related venues as the primary location where sexual bullying occurs, with hallways, lunchrooms, playgrounds, athletic stadiums, and school buses reported as being among the most popular places/locations where groups of students congregate with minimal supervision.
  • Youth often dismissed sexual bullying such as touching and groping or picking on a student for his/her perceived sexual orientation as “not that serious”, “joking”, and even “flirting.”
  • Many adults admitted they never truly considered many of the offending behaviors as sexual bullying; they perceived it as a normal part of being an adolescent or teen.

The 2013 Georgia Youth Risk Behavior Survey also found:

  • 41% of Georgia middle school students and nearly 20% of Georgia high school students have been bullied on school property.
  • More than 18% of Georgia middle school students and nearly 14% of Georgia high school students have been bullied electronically.
  • More than 12% of the Georgia high school students who are dating (seriously or casually) were physically hurt on purpose by someone they were dating.