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      Sexual harassment and assault among university students in Norway: a cross-sectional prevalence study


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          The aim of the current study was to provide estimates of both overall and specific forms of sexual harassment among male and female college and university students.

          Design and setting

          Data stem from a recent national student health survey from 2018 for higher education in Norway (the SHoT study ( Students’ Health and Wellbeing Study)).


          50 054 full-time students (69.1% women) aged 18–35 years participated, yielding a response rate of 31%.

          Main outcome measure

          Sexual harassment was defined according to Norwegian legal regulations, and was assessed by self-report on seven items covering verbal, non-verbal and physical sexual harassment. We also collected data on the timeframe and frequency of the sexual harassment, in addition to the formal position of the perpetrator of the harassment.


          Lifetime sexual harassment was reported by 24.2% (women 31.3%, men 8.0%), while 16.7% (women 21.6%, men 5.7%) reported having been sexually harassed within the past year. The most common forms of lifetime (ever having experienced) sexual harassments were ‘sexual expressions, suggestions or comments about your body’ and ‘unwanted touching, hugging or kissing’ (both 15.4%), while rape and rape attempt were reported by 3.4% and 2.1%, respectively. Exposure to all forms of past-year sexual harassments was significantly more common among women and the youngest age cohorts. Fellow students committed the past-year sexual harassment in 18%–29% of the instances, while a university staff member was reported to have committed the harassment in 0.6%–4.6% of cases.


          Given the potential consequences suffered by those exposed to sexual harassment and assault, both the institutions and student welfare organisations should intensify their efforts to put the theme on the agenda and provide both legal and health services to victims of sexual harassment. The low response rate means that care should be taken in interpreting and generalising the findings to the whole student population.

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          Most cited references26

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          Campus Sexual Assault: A Systematic Review of Prevalence Research From 2000 to 2015

          Sexual assault is a pervasive problem on university and college campuses in the United States that has garnered growing national attention, particularly in the past year. This is the first study to systematically review and synthesize prevalence findings from studies on campus sexual assault (CSA) published since 2000 ( n = 34). The range of prevalence findings for specific forms of sexual victimization on college campuses (i.e., forcible rape, unwanted sexual contact, incapacitated rape, sexual coercion, and studies' broad definitions of CSA/rape) is provided, and methodological strengths and limitations in the empirical body of research on CSA are discussed. Prevalence findings, research design, methodology, sampling techniques, and measures, including the forms of sexual victimization measured, are presented and evaluated across studies. Findings suggest that unwanted sexual contact appears to be most prevalent on college campuses, including sexual coercion, followed by incapacitated rape, and completed or attempted forcible rape. Additionally, several studies measured broad constructs of sexual assault that typically include combined forms of college-based sexual victimization (i.e., forcible completed or attempted rape, unwanted sexual contact, and/or sexual coercion). Extensive variability exists within findings for each type of sexual victimization measured, including those that broadly measure sexual assault, which is largely explained by differences in sampling strategies and overall study designs as well as measures of sexual assault used in studies. Implications for findings and recommendations for future research on the prevalence of college-based sexual victimization are provided.
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            Measuring sexual harassment in the military: The Sexual Experiences Questionnaire (SEQ—DoD).

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              Efficacy of a Sexual Assault Resistance Program for University Women

              Young women attending university are at substantial risk for being sexually assaulted, primarily by male acquaintances, but effective strategies to reduce this risk remain elusive.

                Author and article information

                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                9 June 2019
                : 9
                : 6
                : e026993
                [1 ] departmentDepartment of Health Promotion , Norwegian Institute of Public Health , Bergen, Norway
                [2 ] departmentDepartment of Research and Innovation , Helse Fonna HF , Haugesund, Norway
                [3 ] departmentDepartment of Mental Health , Norwegian University of Science and Technology , Trondheim, Norway
                [4 ] National Institute of Occupational Health , Oslo, Norway
                [5 ] departmentDepartment of Psychosocial Science , University of Bergen , Bergen, Norway
                [6 ] National Research Centre for the Working Environment , Copenhagen, Denmark
                [7 ] departmentDepartment of Clinical Psychology , University of Bergen , Bergen, Norway
                [8 ] Vestre Viken HF , Drammen, Norway
                [9 ] Student Welfare Organisation of Oslo and Akershus , Oslo, Norway
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Professor Børge Sivertsen; borge.sivertsen@ 123456fhi.no
                Author information
                © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

                : 01 October 2018
                : 15 May 2019
                : 20 May 2019
                Custom metadata

                eidemiology,mental health,public health
                eidemiology, mental health, public health


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