#DigitalRespect4Her – Insafe resources on online violence against young women

The #DigitalRespect4Her campaign is an initiative launched by Commissioners for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová and for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel to raise awareness of the gender-specific violence young girls and women face online on a daily basis. Indeed, women are 27 times more likely than men to be harassed online (this includes online sexual harassment and stalking) and they sometimes face such abuse at a very young age.

In light of this, many Safer Internet Centres (SICs) from the Insafe network have taken measures and developed educational resources to give young girls the proper means to defend themselves and not fall prey to these gender-specific online risks.

Preventing online violence against girls and young women

Sexting is not, in itself, a problematic practice. However, if it goes wrong – that is to say, if one of the two partners decides to damage the other's reputation by leaking the other's private pictures – sexting can have dramatic consequences on a young person's life. While this issue concerns boys and girls alike, one must recognise that it disproportionately affects the latter: not only are there more young girls and women targeted by such practices; but the societal consequences of it are also heavier on females than males.

Pictures of educational resources from Safer Internet Centres from the Insafe network

To encourage young girls to think critically about this risk and to prevent them from falling into this trap, several European SICs have developed targeted educational materials on the topic.

  • When sharing is not caring by the Danish SIC – this publication, available in English, was designed for counsellors, parents and teachers to support them in talking about non-consensual sharing of private images with young people above the age of 12.
  • Sex, revenge and video about children and young people sharing intimate images by the Danish SIC – this pedagogical book, in Danish, targets mainly teachers, and focuses on young people having their private images and videos being shared without their consent.
  • Sex Thing by the Belgian SIC – this theatre play consists of a monologue by a young woman who had explicit pictures of her shared without her consent through the whole school, and who shows up at a school reunion five years later. It aims to show pupils from secondary school the possible consequences of sexting.
  • Sexting.be resources by the Belgian SIC – this website (in Dutch) gathers information, tools and resources for a wide variety of target groups around the topic of sexting. It contains a lesson plan, a tool allowing schools to develop a tailor-made policy to prevent sexting from going wrong, resources for young people having issues related to sexting, and more.
  • Picture This! by the UK SIC – this pack of educational resources around sexting supports teachers in working on the topic with students aged 11-16. It contains a 25-minute play script to address the topic in a fun and engaging way, as well as lesson plans.
  • #BeInCtrl by the Irish SIC – the originality of this teaching resource lies in the fact that it was co-produced with the Irish police. It aims to give teachers the tools to properly help students aged 13-18 to understand that online sexual coercion and extortion of children is a crime, to raise awareness of safe online communication, and to promote help-seeking and reporting of incidents.

Breaking sexist stereotypes

Combatting direct online attacks on girls and young women is not enough; we must see the bigger picture and fight to change the proliferation of sexist, misogynistic content online, which creates the conditions that make violence against women possible. For this reason, some SICs have designed educational resources to raise awareness among young girls about the hyper-sexualisation and objectification of women online.

  • Sex in the media by the Finnish SIC – this material, available in Finnish and English, was designed for counsellors and teachers working with young people aged 14-19. It aims to make young people take a more critical approach to the images presented in the media, regarding three topics in particular: sexual content in commercial media, gender representation, and pornography as sex education.
  • Selfies, Sexting, Self-Portrayal by the German SIC – this teaching material, which contains explainer videos, worksheets and more, supports teachers in approaching topics such as self-portrayal in social media. The resources are in German.
  • Risky behaviour on the internet and human trafficking by the Bulgarian SIC – this guidebook is for teenage peer educators to work with their peers on the consequences of risky online behaviour and the connection between the internet and human trafficking.

All these resources, and many more, can be found in the BIK repository of resources. Find out more information about the work of the Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe, including their awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services.

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#DigitalRespect4Her, a campaign against online violence against girls and women

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