Children’s charity call on all to ‘Step Up, Speak Up’ to end sexual harassment online
New educational resources, ‘Step Up, Speak Up!’ have been published by children’s charity Childnet as part of a Europe-wide project to tackle online sexual harassment carried out by young people.
Defined as ‘unwanted sexual conduct on any online platform’, online sexual harassment amongst young people has been an increasingly present issue in schools and local communities.
These freely available resources will aim to:
The resources are launched at a moment when government policy is looking to address the online issues young people are facing, with the upcoming DCMS and Home Office Online Harms White Paper soon to be published. The Department of Education has also released its statutory guidance on Relationship and Sex Education which will be mandatory for all schools from September 2020.
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 education about these issues more crucial than ever. 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.
We know that technology has a positive and central part to play in young people’s lives, and we know that they feel passionately about being part of the solution. That’s why we are calling on everyone to ‘Step Up and Speak Up' when they see sexual harassment happening online.”M/i>
Why have these resources been created?
Amidst growing concerns of sexual harassment in schools, research conducted with 1,559 UK teens found alarming prevalence of young people targeting their peers with online sexual harassment.
As one girl aged 17 commented:
"[We need to learn what] 'sexual harassment’ really is – in regard to being online. Everyone gets comments about being ‘hot’ and what would be classed as sexual comments, but no one really knows where the limit is; no one is aware of what classes as harassment – comments, photos – revolving around sexualising bodies. Then once we can identify it, we can then be taught how to deal with it."
Development of ‘Step Up Speak Up! Toolkit’ with young people, teachers and professionals
Using the findings of quantitative and qualitative research, and working alongside both young people and educators, the resources will give young people the opportunity to explore their own attitudes and opinions, and to discuss ways to challenge unacceptable online behaviour. The reporting process is a key theme that runs throughout the toolkit, and the different reporting options are explored and clarified. Opportunities for adaptation and extension are provided for all activities, plus additional information for educators to understand the background of the issues at hand, and guidance on discussing these with students. The toolkit includes:
Supporting guidance for educators and law enforcement:
Significant impact on young people
The project has piloted the resources with schools in the UK with the following findings, which can be found in full at www.deshame.eu:
As one boy aged 14-15 years said:
“I like these lessons because…this is important, this is real life, people do go through these sorts of issues and there are many other subjects and issues like this that don’t get addressed. The more that people get into the real world and they’ll be like ‘oh no I never learnt about this…’”