Secondary pupils are subject to sexual harassment online, research shows

Secondary pupils are subject to sexual harassment online, research shows

Research published by children’s charity Childnet as part of a Europe-wide project reveals that young people across the UK are being targeted by their peers with online sexual harassment.

The survey of 1,559 UK teens found that in the last year almost a third of girls aged 13-17 years (31 per cent) have received unwanted sexual messages online from their peers (compared to 11 per cent of boys), while 1 in 10 have been targeted online by their peers with sexual threats such as rape threats.

Over half of UK teens have witnessed their peers circulating nude or nearly nude images of someone they know.

Launching at the Children’s Global Media Summit in Manchester, the report comes amidst growing concerns of the prevalence of sexual harassment in schools and the upcoming publication of advice for schools from the Department for Education.

Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet, and coordinator of Project deSHAME said: “Digital technology plays a central role in young people’s lives but it has opened the door for a range of new forms of sexual harassment, making societal discussions about these issues more pertinent than ever. It is evidently something that as a society we can no longer ignore.”

“Throughout the development of this report we have listened to the stories of young people who are navigating the complexities of relationships in a digital age and in some cases are facing the worst forms of peer-to-peer victimisation and online sexual harassment.”

“We believe that all young people have a right to be safe and free to express themselves in digital spaces. This report underlines how essential it is that we all work together to ensure that online sexual harassment is not an inevitable part of growing up.”

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