On Wednesday, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) released a survey about the sexual violence and harassment teenage girls face ― and the findings are startling.
The report revealed the sexual violence and harassment many young women face, and how these experiences often lead teens to drop out of school. The researchers found that instances of sexual violence and harassment were so pervasive that 1 in 6 of the teen girls surveyed said they had been harassed since Election Day.
The report, titled “Let Her Learn: Stopping School Pushout,” was conducted in partnership with Lake Research Partners to pinpoint the reasons why girls drop out of school. Researchers surveyed 1,003 teen girls between the ages of 14 to 18 from across the United States this past January.
According to the report, 1 in 5 girls between 14 and 18 years old (21 percent) reported being sexually assaulted ― defined by NWLC as “they had been kissed or touched without their consent.”
Girls of color and LGBTQ girls experience sexual assault and harassment at higher than average rates.
Twenty-four percent of Latina girls reported experiencing unwanted kissing or touching. Twenty-three percent of Native American girls, and 22 percent of black girls reported experiencing sexual assault. LGBTQ girls experienced the highest incidences of sexual assault, with 38 percent reporting they had been kissed or touched without their consent.
The researchers found that 6 percent of all girls surveyed said they had been raped. But, again, those numbers were higher for LGBTQ girls and girls of color: 15 percent of LGBTQ girls, 11 percent of Native American girls, 9 percent of black girls, and 7 percent of Latina girls reported being forced to have sex when they did not want to.
These statistics take on new weight given that the president of the United States is an accused sexual predator.
According to the survey, more than 1 in 6 teenage girls (or 17 percent) reported that they had experienced harassment since the 2016 presidential election.
Many advocates worried that there would be an uptick in violence against women when President Donald Trump took office. Directly after the election, many incidences of sexism and harassment happened, along with an increase in hate crimes.
President Trump has been accused of sexually assaulting more than a dozen women, and has publicly defended other men who have been accused of sexual harassment and assault, like Roger Ailes and the recently-ousted Bill O’Reilly.
“My concern is based on not just what [President Trump’s] behavior has been, because he is an individual, but what he can do to influence other men’s behaviors and other women’s perceptions of their value,” Rita Smith, the former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, told The Huffington Post in November. “Even just the election itself had an impact on how men treated and talked about women.”
Neena Chaudhry, NWLC Director of Education, explained in a press release that this data should “sound an urgent alarm” for politicians and educators across the country.
“The trauma that girls experience affects not only their mental and physical health but also their ability to concentrate, feel safe, and stay and do well in school,” Chaudhry wrote. “We need targeted policies to help these groups of girls stay and thrive in school, and we owe them no less.”
Head over to the National Women’s Law Center to read the full report, which also explores other obstacles young girls face including homelessness, unplanned pregnancy and racism.
CORRECTION: This entry has been updated to clarify that 1 in 6 teen girls reported being harassed, which includes both sexual harassment and non-sexual harassment, since Election Day.
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