About the project
While digital technologies have helped young people feel connected during the pandemic, they also opened them up to risks and harms, such as grooming, harassment, and non-consensual image sharing. For this research project, academics working alongside a sexual education charity gathered evidence through surveys, focus groups and interviews with students, parents, and teachers / safeguarding leads across England about the technology-facilitated sexual and gender-based harms experienced by 13-18 year olds during the pandemic.
Key policy recommendations include:
- Need for teaching from an early age about sexual and gender-based violence, and how it can be facilitated through technology. Parents and schools need support and training if they are to help young people form, manage and maintain healthy relationships.
- Schools should adopt specific sexual and gender-based violence policies, develop strategies for reporting, and put in place victim support mechanisms for dealing with (online) gendered harms and sexual violence.
- Government and OFSTED should provide clear language and terminology relating to scope and forms of technology-facilitated gender and sexual violence.
Professor Kaitlynn Mendes
(University of Leicester)