Participatory Action Research (PAR)

PAR is a popular education method that allows community members to imagine, design, and conduct the research. It is ongoing research done for the community by the community, in which the community identifies a problem. The community then researches the problem and presents the results of the research to the larger community. The larger community then determines and implements an action in response to the problem. Once the action is taken, the action is evaluated to determine how effective the whole process had been and what next steps need to be taken.

Sisters in Strength Youth Organizers led PAR in NYC public schools to investigate the impact that sexual harassment has on students. The data from our participatory action research, gathered in 2008, demonstrates the need for change in NYC schools.

  • 1,189 middle and high school students participated
  • from 90 NYC public schools in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens
  • 63% female, 37% male
  • 11-20 years old
  • 43% Black/African American, 21% Hispanic/Latino, 21% Asian/Pacific Islander, 7% white, 8% mixed

Our findings show the following:

  • Sexual harassment is a normal part of students’ in-school experience:
    • 70% of all students did not believe sexual harassment was a problem in their school.
    • However, 64% of students said that sexual harassment occurred at their school.
    • 70.5% of students said that sexual teasing, jokes, remarks, questions occurred at their school.
    • 31.2% said that pressure for sex or sexual activity occurred at their school.
    • 9.7% of students said that forced sexual activity occurred at their school.
  • Sexual harassment takes place all over school:
    • 58.7% of girls said that sexual harassment takes place in the hallway at their school.
    • 34% of boys said that it happens in the locker room, indicating same sex sexual harassment.
  • Students need more support:
    • Only 3% of all respondents had ever reported sexual harassment although 66.5% reported being sexually harassed.
    • For those who did report, it was not taken seriously.
    •  Students who had experienced sexual harassment said that it impacted their ability to focus in school due to depression, fear/insecurity and feeling violated: “I couldn’t concentrate and kept crying for no reason.” “My grades dropped and I was always depressed.” “I was scared to come to school.”
  • Educators and students alike are unaware of their rights or how to apply them:
    • When CGES called 200 schools in districts throughout NYC last year to find out the name of their Title IX Coordinator, only 10 schools were readily able to share the name of their designated staff person.
    • What’s a Title IX Coordinator?
      • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that every school in the U.S. have a Title IX Coordinator, a volunteer staff member who is trained to receive reports of sexual harassment and maintain schools free of gender discrimination. The entire school community must know their name and how to reach them.

      Sexual harassment, a form of gender based violence,  should not stand in the way of student’s academic achievement. Learn more about our Coalition for Gender Equity in Schools and see how you can get involved!