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Media opportunity: Unique multi‑university research project aims to stem the harms of technology‑facilitated sexual violence for teens in Canada
Digital technologies and the internet have become a part of daily life for many young people in Canada and around the world. And while that increased connectivity brings many benefits, it can also open youth up to online harm and abuse.
In 2020, for example, a survey of more than 14,000 young girls and women in 22 countries found that 58 per cent reported experiencing some form of online harassment, including sexual harassment. That can include receiving unsolicited explicit images, exploitative sexual extortion and non-consensual distribution of intimate images. Research has found that in many cases, those interactions can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and even self-harm.
To learn what can be done to address the problem, researchers at Western University, Dalhousie University, McGill and St. Mary’s University are launching a five-year project to specifically examine technology-facilitated sexual violence (TFSV) among people aged 13 to 18. They hope to understand their challenges, how they cope and their ideas for solutions.
The team, including Suzie Dunn of Dal's Schulich School of Law, will recruit up to 200 young people who will be interviewed on their experiences with TFSV, messages they receive around TFSV in schools, how helpful current responses are for young people, and what resources and responses they would like.
Prof. Dunn is available to discuss the Digitally Informed Youth Digital Safety and how it aims to empower young people while providing them with tailored resources so they can have safe and enjoyable interactions on and offline.
Senior Research Reporter
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