European pupils launch online sexual harassment campaign

Young people from the UK, Hungary and Denmark have joined forces to tackle online sexual harassment

School-age pupils in three countries across Europe have created a project to tackle sexual harassment carried out by young people online.

Project deSHAME includes a film created by pupils aged 13–17 from the UK, Denmark and Germany, designed to inspire change among young people so that they feel empowered to stand up to online harassment, whether through reporting to social media companies, the police, or a trusted adult.

Will Gardner, CEO of charity 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 is 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, or youth workers – as well as the internet industry.”

The power of this film is that is gives us the unique opportunity to hear directly from young people about what they need from the adults in their lives.
–Will Gardner, Childnet

The project has also created a range of resources as part of the Step Up, Speak Up! campaign to raise awareness around online sexual harassment. The resources include two short animated films for young people aged 13–17 to help identify, define and understand what online sexual harassment is.

Childnet research has found that 51% if respondents aged 13–17 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.

During the creation of the Project deSHAME film, young people reported to Childnet what they wanted adults to do if a young person came to them after facing sexual harassment online. They said:

  1. Support us every step of the way, even if you think we may have done something wrong
  2. Don’t get angry or overreact if we tell you something that shocks you
  3. Gain knowledge about social media and the digital world we identify with
  4. We need you to be a figure of support and not a figure of authority
  5. Explain to us what help there is, and how we can get it
  6. To know that you’re going to take it seriously, not brush it off
  7. To make us feel safe
  8. To reassure us that you’re going to help

Childnet have created a new resource to help parents and carers with some of the issues raised in the Project deSHAME film, including sexting.

The resource contains statistics about sexting, answers some FAQs that parents may have, and breaks down guidance for parents and carers into age-appropriate sections, including:

  • 3–7-year-olds
  • 7–11-year-olds
  • 11–14-year-olds
  • 14–18-year-olds

More information about Project deSHAME and the Step Up, Speak Up! campaign can be found at https://www.childnet.com/our-projects/project-deshame/about-project-deshame and https://www.childnet.com/blog/step-up-speak-up-new-resources-to-address-peer-based-online-sexual-harassment-with-13-17s

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