A survey conducted by the American Association of University Women has reported that 48 percent of students between seventh and 12th grade were sexually harassed in the last school year. In total 1,965 students in grades 7-12 were surveyed in May and June of 2011.

In addition, only 9 percent reported the incidents to an adult at school, while many of the students who were surveyed said they thought it would make the situation worse if an adult were involved.

I think it's wonderful that bullying is getting attention, said Catherine Hill, co-author of the report and director of research at the AAUW in Washington. But I would like sexual harassment in that conversation.

“Sexual harassment doesn’t get attention as much as bullying, because it’s less comfortable to talk about. But we hope this report is one way to start a conversation,” said Hill.

In the nationally representative survey conducted for the school year 2010-2011, 56 percent of girls and 40 percent of boys said they were sexually harassed. While 30 percent experienced sexual harassment by text message, e-mail, Facebook or other electronic means, it is reported that 18 percent were called gay or lesbian in a negative way.

It's an issue that affects people differently, said Hill. People need to take it seriously.

AAUW has stressed that schools need to be alert to the issue required to help stop the cycle of harassment.

The report also suggested that sexual harassment could cause problems for students long before it prompts legal action. While 32 percent said that afterward they did not want to go to school, 30 percent found it difficult to study and 4 percent changed school.