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Study: Sexual Harassment In Middle And High Schools At Unprecedented Levels

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A disturbing study released Monday says sexual harassment is an epidemic that's pervasive in middle school and high schools.

Meet the "Teenangels" from the Ursuline School in New Rochelle. They're part of a nationwide group that fights cyber-bullying and sexual harassment, an issue that's all too common, reports CBS 2's Cindy Hsu.

"A group of guys would just holler out or call me names and one time when I was with my mom one of them followed us into the store," Teenangel "Parris" said.

"Felicia" experienced sexual harassment online over the summer.

"He started saying some words to me that I didn't particularly like. Then he wanted me to do stuff with him that I didn't particularly want to," Felicia said.

A nationwide study of nearly 2,000 students -- from seventh grade to 12th grade -- found nearly half of them had experienced sexual harassment within the last school year.

The American Association of University Women conducted the study and defined sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual behavior that takes place in person or electronically.

It found 44 percent experienced so-called "in person harassment" from jokes to sexual intimidation and 30 percent faced it online from comments to sexual pictures.

The Teenangels are trained to teach other students and parents how to stop the harassment with three steps.

"You stop talking to the person immediately and you just stop contact with this person, and then block, you block the person, delete them on Facebook, block their profile whatever you have to do and then tell, you tell a trusted adult, a friend, a teacher anyone you can trust," "Alison" said.

Cyberlaw attorney Parry Aftab said parents need to talk to children as early as possible about how to deal with it.

"Let them know that if they're being attacked for whatever the reason you're not going to take away their technology and blame them. Have a frank talk with them saying we know a lot of kids are doing things. My first role is to protect you, not to lecture you," Aftab said.

The study found half of those harassed did nothing about it. Students who reported harassment in the study told researchers about the profound impact it had on their lives. They said they didn't want to go to school and felt sick to their stomachs and found it hard to study.

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