Determinants of adolescent sexual harassment behavior: do adolescents intend to reject or stop sexual harassment?


  • G. de Lijster
  • L. Taal
  • W. Gebhardt
  • G. Kok
  • P. Kocken


Sexual harassment behavior is a growing problem in society. This study aimed at establishing which TPB determinants contributed to adolescent sexual harassment. Also additional determinants, such as prototype favorability, risk perception, sexual self-esteem, knowledge and sexual harassment behavior in the past six months, were studied. We conducted a cross sectional study within 25 schools for pre-vocational and senior general secondary education in urban areas in the Netherlands. The target group consisted of male and female adolescents aged 12-16 years from various ethnic backgrounds (N = 747). The students filled out a questionnaire in the classroom. The central outcomes were the intention to reject sexually explicit pictures/messages (i.e. sexting) and sexual remarks, and the intention to stop kissing someone against his/her will (i.e. dating violence). Hierarchical linear regression analysis was used to examine relationships between determinants and behavioral intention using data of 571 respondents. Perceived behavioral control and gender were significant determinants associated with students’ intentions to reject and to stop committing sexual harassment. Knowledge, sexual harassment behavior in the past six months and ethnicity were not directly related to students’ intention to reject or to stop the behavior. Moreover, girls reported a higher intention to reject and to stop committing sexual harassment. Our research provides insight into the determinants of adolescent sexual harassment behaviors that occur relatively frequent in the age category 12-14 years. Besides addressing TPB determinants in interventions, designers should also target additional determinants and use gender specific strategies within the intervention.





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