Almost a quarter of pupils aged 13 to 17 have seen people being pressured to share nude or nearly nude images of themselves online, according to new research.
The research, carried out by children’s charity Childnet and its partners in Europe, also suggests that 18 per cent of pupils in the UK had seen people sharing images or videos of someone they knew doing a sexual act, while 22 per cent had seen people making sexual threats online.
The charity is today launching a free educational resources pack, entitled Step Up Speak Up, which aims to increase awareness and help schools to tackle online sexual harassment while also calling on young people to report it.
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Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet, and coordinator of Project deSHAME, through which the research was carried out, 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 education about these issues more crucial than ever.
'New forms of sexual harassment'
“We have been working collaboratively with children and young people, teachers and law enforcement, as well as industry, to develop effective preventative programmes and to inform more effective responses to this issue.”
The new resources include films, posters and an assembly presentation, as well as lesson plans, to help pupils understand ground rules and respond to and report peer-based online sexual harassment.
One Year 10 boy said: “This is what kids our age need. They need to learn about sexual harassment – online, offline, it doesn’t matter. It’s not really addressed well enough and I think it needs to be.”
Research was also carried out in Denmark and Hungary, where 37 and 31 per cent (respectively) of 13- to 17-year-olds reported being pressured to share nude or nearly nude images of themselves online – compared with 23 per cent in the UK.
The research was a collaboration between Childnet (UK), Kek Vonal (Hungary), Save the Children (Denmark) and UCLan (UK).