Young people in the UK, Hungary and Denmark have come together to tackle online sexual harassment and what they need from adults to help them to put an end to it.
‘Support us every step of the way, even if you think we may have done something wrong’
– young person from Denmark
The film has been created as part of Project deSHAME, a Europe-wide project to tackle sexual harassment carried out by young people online. Defined as ‘unwanted sexual conduct on any online platform’, online sexual harassment amongst young people is an increasingly present issue in schools and local communities. Each of the countries involved in Project deSHAME consulted an advisory board made up of young people to ensure that these resources were reflective of young people experiences.
Our research found that 51% of respondents aged 13-17 years said they have witnessed people their age circulating nude or nearly nude images of someone they know, with 10% of UK teens receiving sexual threats online. However young people in the UK said that they were more likely to ignore online sexual harassment than to speak to their parents or carers, with 49% not telling their parents as they were worried that they would then stop them from using the internet.
This film is designed to inspire change among young people, so that they feel empowered to step up to online sexual harassment, whether that is through reporting to social media, the police or a trusted adult.
Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet, and coordinator of Project deSHAME said:
"This film is a direct call to action from young people to put an end to online sexual harassment. We know that young people are passionate about making a real difference online and this film will act as an inspiration for those who watch it. The power of this film is that it gives us the unique opportunity to hear directly from young people about what they need from the adults in their lives, whether that is their parents, carers, teachers, youth workers and as well as the internet industry. It’s clear that all of us must act now to put an end to online sexual harassment.”
What young people want adults to do
During the creation of this film
the young people told us what they wanted adults to do if a young person came to them after facing sexual harassment online. This is what they said:
- Supports us every step of the way, even if you think we may have done something wrong
- To not get angry or overreact if we tell you something that shocks you
- Gain knowledge about social media and the digital world we identify with
- We need you to be a figure of support and not a figure of authority
- Explain to us what help there is, and how we can get it
- To know that you’re going to take it seriously, not brush it off
- To make us feel safe
- To reassure us that you’re going to help
56% of young people in the UK said that embarrassment was the main reason they would not report online sexual harassment. Project deSHAME has worked with young people and professionals to develop practical resources to instigate open and regular conversations about this issue.
Resources to help parents and carers
To help parents and carers to support their children with some of the issues raised in this film Childnet have created a new resource outlining further information about sexting.
This ‘Hot Topic’ contains statistics about sexting among young people, answers some FAQs that parents may have and then breaks down guidance for parents into age appropriate sections, including tailored advice for:
3-7 year olds
7-11 year olds
11-14 year olds
14-18 year olds
There is also guidance to help parents who discover that their child’s nude image has been shared online.