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Female and Male Athletic Coaches and Female High School Athletes Perception of Sexual Harassment and the Incidence among Female High School Athletes Open Access

This study was designed to examine the perception and incidence of sexual harassment and determine the incidence of sexual harassment in relation to girls participating in high school athletics. The similarities and differences of interpretation of various interactions between high school athletes with their male and female athletic coaches were examined. This study also investigated the actual incidence of sexual harassment by male and female high school athletic coaches as reported by female athletes. The study population included male and female athletic coaches currently coaching a female high school athletic team and female college students who participated in high school athletics. This researcher, in order to accommodate the study population and research questions, adapted the Sexual Harassment Survey (1995) by Margery J. Holman, Ph.D. Female student athletes and male and female coaches responded to survey questions on demographics and their perceptions and understanding of described behaviors. The student athletes completed an additional section of the survey pertaining to their experience of sexual harassment. Descriptive statistics (including frequencies and percentages as well as means and standard deviations) and inferential statistics (One-Way Analysis of Variance with a Scheffe test of significance) were used to analyze the data. A comparison of the responses of all three groups (female athletes, male coaches and female coaches) to questions pertaining to perceptions of sexual harassment indicated agreement among the groups in the identification of inappropriate behaviors. However, there was a significant difference in the level of agreement for seven described behaviors. In general, male and female coaches agreed with each other more often than with female athletes when identifying the behaviors associated with sexual harassment. The investigation of incidence indicated that female athletes experienced more behaviors associated with sexual harassment from male coaches than from female coaches. Understanding that the same behaviors were identified by female athletes, male coaches and female coaches, it can be concluded that inappropriate behavior was consistently identified, but the identification of sexual harassment does not necessarily diminish the incidence of sexual harassment.

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