Almost half of girls aged 11 to 18 have experienced abuse on social media, study shows

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Nearly half of girls between 11 and 18 have suffered harassment or abuse online, according to new findings.

Plan International UK conducted the study in association with its #girlsbelonghere campaign, which it plans to release into schools in the future.

The study polled over a thousand girls and boys in that age bracket to determine whether female harassment was prominent online.

48 per cent of females had experienced harassment or abuse on social media, including receiving offensive messages, having images shared without consent or feeling harassed by a particular person or regular contact.

Three out of four respondents (73 per cent) had to block or avoid the social media sites to prevent the harassment, according to the survey.

Two in five girls had blocked other users (43 per cent), while a third had decided to not engage online for fear of criticism.  13 per cent had stopped going on social media altogether.

Of the male respondents, 40 per cent reported harassment or online abuse, with almost 60 per cent taking some form of action to stop it.

A spokesperson for the government said more funding would be going into anti-bullying schemes to prevent such high numbers of online harassment.

“To help support this, the Government is investing more than £4 million in anti-bullying projects and has introduced new cyber-bullying guidance which provides advice for schools on understanding, preventing and responding to cyberbullying”

“We will soon be consulting on the range of issues which should be included in the updated Relationship and Sexual Education guidance.”

Tanya Barron, chief executive of Plan International UK, told The Independent online harassment against young women was becoming ‘concerning’, now more than ever before.

“Girls have previously told us that they face harassment in schools and are scared every day on the street,” she said.

“This new survey now shows that what they’re experiencing in the physical world is spilling over into their digital world – and we mustn’t allow this to happen.”

“What’s really concerning is that our research shows girls are self-censoring on social media for fear of backlash from others.”

The Children’s Commissioner for England previously warned parents to stop their children from “bingeing” on social media, comparing it to “ junk food”.

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