December 16th 2021: The Children’s Commissioner is today launching a guide for parents and carers on online sexual harassment and how they can support children to stay safe online.
“The things I wish my parents had known” draws together advice from 16 to 21 year olds on how parents should manage tricky conversations around sexual harassment and access to inappropriate content, including pornography.
The Commissioner’s office began a programme of work focussing on peer-on-peer abuse following the avalanche of testimonies on the Everyone’s Invited website, which laid bare an epidemic of sexual violence among teens. This was picked up in Ofsted’s June 2021 review of sexual harassment in schools and colleges.
A surprising but overriding message from young people is that parents should start these challenging conversations early. They suggest broaching topics before a child is given a phone or a social media account, which is often around the age of 9 or 10.
The Children’s Commissioner would be grateful for the support of schools and colleges in disseminating this guide to as many parents and carers as possible. She hopes that her guide will serve as a useful starting point to raise awareness and understanding of online harassment, and to complement key messages on the new relationships and sex education curriculum.