Sexual harassment and teen dating violence are part of everyday life in schools across the United States, from elementary to middle and high schools. They often take a toll on students’ — and especially girls’ — education, resulting in decreased productivity and increased absenteeism from school. In order to achieve gender equality in our schools, and to give every child a chance at success, students must be free of harassment and violence and able to focus on learning.
Senior Research Scientist Nan Stein has spent nearly 40 years conducting research on sexual harassment and gender violence in K-12 schools, as well as teen dating violence. She examines the effect sexual harassment can have on children, how it differs from bullying, and which strategies can help create school environments free from sexual harassment and gender violence. Her groundbreaking and invaluable research has been funded by, among others, the National Institute of Justice of the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Education, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Education Association.
Stein’s research has been transformed into action through Shifting Boundaries: Lessons on Relationships for Students in Middle School, her team’s evidence-based intervention to reduce sexual harassment and teen dating violence in secondary schools. In a review of 140 interventions, the CDC cited Shifting Boundaries as one of only two effective strategies for reducing sexual violence in middle schools, and the intervention has been recognized for its effectiveness by the Department of Education and the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault.
Stein has also presented her research findings on teen dating violence prevention before the Senate Judiciary Committee as it was considering reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Getting this research into the hands of both educators and policymakers maximizes its potential to reduce sexual harassment and teen dating violence in schools.