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Hanna Markkula, the secretary general at Save the Children Finland, discussed the results of the children’s rights watchdog’s survey of sexual harassment and bullying in a press conference in Helsinki on 4 September, 2018. (Credit: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)
Hanna Markkula, the secretary general at Save the Children Finland, discussed the results of the children’s rights watchdog’s survey of sexual harassment and bullying in a press conference in Helsinki on 4 September, 2018. (Credit: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

 

Save the Children Finland has voiced its concern about the misuse of self-taken, sexually explicit photos and videos of children and young people.

The children’s rights watchdog has conducted a survey to determine how common sexual harassment and bullying is among 12–17-year-old digital media users in Finland, finding that over 10 per cent of girls and almost five per cent of boys have been sexually harassed by their peers.

Over 30 per cent of the 3,210 respondents also indicated that they have seen their peers sexually harass others. Another 30 per cent stated that they have seen others edit photos of their peers to make them seem sexual.

The survey was conducted between February and March 2018.

“The results offer an important window into the daily lives of children and young people,” says Nina Vaaranen-Valkonen, a senior advisor at Save the Children Finland. “The results clearly show that children are not born as digital natives but that children and young people need more information and guidance than ever when it comes to sharing images safely.”

Vaaranen-Valkonen told YLE on Saturday that everyone should stop and consider the implications of the results.

The survey also found a divide between the actions and attitudes of young people: although young people widely understand that sexually explicit photos should not be shared online, roughly a third of respondents said they have received such photos or videos to their phones from their peers or seen sexually suggestive material being shared in group chats.

The respondents also revealed that they send sexually explicit photos of themselves especially when they are in a relationship.

Roughly 30 per cent of boys and 20 per cent of girls viewed that it is acceptable to ask for a nude photo or video from their boyfriend or girlfriend. Almost 50 per cent of girls and 60 per cent of boys in general upper-secondary education also estimated that it is acceptable to send sexually explicit photos of themselves.

If such material is used for sexual harassment or bullying, children and young people typically respond by blocking the offender or telling a friend about the harassment. Shame, however, prevents many from telling adults about such experiences: almost a half of girls and over a fifth of boys cited it as a reason for not telling an adult about sexual harassment.

The survey is part of the operations of the Finnish Safer Internet Centre (FISIC). The FISIC, in turn, is part of the European Commission’s Safer Internet Programme, the objective of which is to guarantee a better and safer online experience for children.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi