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Teenagers hit with online sexual harassment

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The UK’s teenagers are suffering from a storm of online sexual harassment, newly published research has revealed.

According to charity Childnet’s study, 31% of British teenage girls have received unwanted sexual messages from their peers, while 11% of boys reported similar experiences.

Even more disturbing, 10% of the 1,559 teens surveyed said they had been sent rape threats over the internet.

Launching at the Children’s Global Media Summit in Manchester, the report – ‘Project deShame’ – also reveals that 51% of those aged 13-17 have witnessed people their age circulating nude or nearly nude images of someone they know – the abysmal phenomenon known as ‘revenge porn’. And 6% told the survey they themselves have been the target of such behaviour.

Meanwhile, 23% said they have witnessed young people secretly taking sexual images of someone and sharing them online – also known as ‘creep shots’ or ‘upskirting’ – while 8% actually admitted doing it themselves in the last year.

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.

‘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.’

Isn’t it fortunate that our young people have so many film stars, producers, celebrities and world leaders to look to for good moral guidance in what constitutes respectful, safe and healthy sexual behaviour?

The report is available for download here.

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