Online Sexual Harassment – new Hot Topic for professionals and educators

Posted on 07 December 2018

As Childnet launches a new Hot Topic on online sexual harassment, we take a look at what this issue means for young people and what educators need to know about it.

The Childnet Hot Topics are easy to digest pieces of information and guidance created for parents and carers, teachers, and young people, to help them understand some key online issues.

Online sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual conduct on any digital platform. It includes a wide range of behaviours that use technology to share digital content such as images, videos, posts, messages, and pages on a variety of different public or private platforms.

Whilst online sexual harassment can happen between adults and children, this hot topic focuses on peer-to-peer harassment taking place between young people.

“A friend of mine was in a seemingly healthy sexual relationship, when noticing things weren’t going okay, he decided to end it with that person. That person then retaliated in threatening my friend about sharing nude photos. I could do nothing but comfort him.”

Girl, 14 years, UK - Project deSHAME

What is covered in the Hot Topic

The Hot Topic looks to answer some key questions that educators may have around the issue of online sexual harassment, including:

  • What is online sexual harassment?
  • What advice can I give to young people?
  • Impact of online sexual harassment
  • Key factors affecting online sexual harassment
  • Online sexual harassment and sexting

The Hot Topic also signposts to other resources and places educators can go for advice around this topic.

Project deSHAME

Project deSHAME is a collaboration between Childnet, Save the Children (Denmark), Kek Vonal (Hungary) and UCLan (UK), co-financed by the EU. It aims to increase reporting of online sexual harassment among children and young people and improve cooperation across charities, government and internet industry in preventing and responding to this behaviour.

Childnet is currently creating resources to raise awareness about online sexual harassment, and encourage reporting amongst young people as part of Project deSHAME.

Project deSHAME found that online sexual harassment affects a large number of young people, with almost a quarter (24%) reporting that they had received sexual comments on a photo they posted of themselves in the last year.

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