UNICEF released their report Perils and Possibilities: Growing up online, based on an international opinion poll of more than 10,000 18-year-olds from 25 countries, revealed young people’s perspectives on the risks they face growing up in an increasingly connected world.
The new report that shows online violence and exploitation is a reality in the lives of children worldwide, but many are not provided with resources and knowledge to protect themselves. Children from very poor communities, such as in the Philippines, Madagascar, El-Salvador and Brazil have been targeted by adult offenders through the internet.
There are a number of interesting findings;
- Two-thirds of 18-year-olds in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean believe children and adolescents are in danger of being sexually abused or taken advantage of online. This compares to 33% polled in the Middle East and North Africa.
- Two-thirds of interviewees in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean either believe strongly, or somewhat, that friends put themselves at risk online, compared to 33% in the United States and United Kingdom.
- Eighteen-year-olds in the United States and United Kingdom are most confident they can avoid online dangers with 94% strongly or somewhat agreeing they can protect themselves on social media. In the Middle East and North Africa only 41% strongly agree and an additional 37% agree somewhat.
- Adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa appear to value meeting new people online most, with 79% saying it is either very or somewhat important. In the United States and United Kingdom 63% say it is not very, or not at all important to meet new people online.
- In Central European countries, 63% of interviewees strongly agree they would tell a friend if they felt threatened online, compared to 46% who would tell their parent. Only 9% would tell a teacher.
Let’s dig a bit more into this report.
More than half, (53%) of the 10,000 18 year-olds that were polled around the world strongly agreed that online dangers exist.
With more than half believing there are online risks and dangers, 90% believe they know how to avoid these problems.
Despite recognition that dangers
exist online, nearly nine out of 10
adolescents think they have learned
how to protect themselves on
social media and know how to avoid
dangerous situations while using the
Whenever you are being harassed or bullied online, especially if virtual violence or otherwise is involved, being able to tell someone is imperative. With younger people we encourage them to tell their parents, however we know at times this can be difficult. They fear their will lose their online privileges or not be taken seriously.
In this report the majority of adolescents polled said the would turn to a friend, and that’s okay. As long as you tell someone.
- 54% said they would tell a friend.
- 48% said they would tell a parent.
- 19% said they would tell a teacher.
Today sexting is considered the new flirting. So if you share flirty pictures with your boyfriend or girlfriend keep in mind, those images will typically have a life span longer than the relationship. If you simply look at the divorce rates today, 40% of first marriages end in divorce, while 60% of second ones end that way — the promise of a young relationship may not be long lasting. Don’t assume your sexy images will be kept private even if your friend makes a promise they will be — once there’s a break-up, all bets are off. It’s why we see the rise in revenge porn and sextortion.
- 67% of girls agreed they would be worried if someone made sexual comments to them online.
- 47% of boys said they had the same concern (a significant difference).
The fact that less than half the boys have the same concern shines the light on the fact that we often read so much about women being targets online when it comes to digital shaming, harassment, revenge porn and more. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen to men – but we do hear an overwhelming amount of stories that revolve around the female gender.
To engage children and adolescents in ending violence online, UNICEF is launching #ReplyforAll, which is part of its global End Violence Against Children initiative. #ReplyforAll puts adolescents’ front and centre as messengers and advocates to keep themselves safe online. Children and adolescents will be asked to give their advice on the best ways to respond to online violence or risks and to raise awareness among friends through social media. This work has been supported by the WePROTECT Global Alliance, which is dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of children online through national and global action.
UNICEF, together with the WePROTECT Global Alliance, is calling on national governments to establish coordinated responses between criminal justice systems including law enforcement, and child welfare, education, health and the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sectors, as well as civil society, to better protect children from online sexual abuse and exploitation.
“When young people, governments, families, the ICT sector and communities work together, we are more likely to find the best ways to respond to online sexual abuse and exploitation, and send a strong message that confronting and ending violence against children online – indeed anywhere – is all of our business,” said Williams.
About the WePROTECT Global Alliance
The WePROTECT Global Alliance is dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of children online through national and global action. Its vision is to identify and safeguard more victims, apprehend more perpetrators and create and internet free from this crime. The WeProtect Global Alliance is comprised of governments, companies and civil society organizations signed up to the commitments made at the WePROTECT Children Online summits in London (2014) and Abu Dhabi (2015) and the members of the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
The full study is here: http://www.unicef.org/endviolence/endviolenceonline/files/UNICEF_Growing-up-online.pdf