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Sagrestano, Lynda M.; Ormerod, Alayne J. and DeBlaere, Cirleen (2019): Peer sexual harassment predicts African American girls' psychological distress and sexual experimentation. In: International Journal of Behavioral Development, Vol. 43, No. 6: pp. 492-499 [PDF, 264kB]


Peer sexual harassment (PSH) occurs frequently and across contexts during adolescence. The current study examined the relations among PSH in school, psychological distress, sexual experimentation, and sexual risk-taking in a sample of African American middle and high school girls. Results indicate that negative body appraisals mediated the relationship between PSH and psychological distress, suggesting that PSH is one way to operationalize interpersonal sexualization and sexual objectification. PSH was directly associated with sexual experimentation, but the association between PSH and sexual experimentation was not mediated by negative body appraisals. Neither PSH nor negative body appraisals were related to sexual risk-taking. This suggests that frequent exposure to high levels of sexualization and sexual objectification, in the form of PSH, is associated with more psychological distress and sexual experimentation, but not with sexual risk-taking, regardless of how girls feel about their bodies.

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