Leeds academics reveal scale of sexual bullying of teens across Europe

NEW research led by Leeds academics has revealed that sexual bullying of teenagers is widespread across Europe and is increasingly happening on social media.

A Leeds Beckett University project found that 73 per cent of young people, aged between 13 and 18, in various countries had experienced at least one form of sexual bullying behaviour on more than one occasion.

The two-year international project defined sexual bullying as a term which covered sexual harassment, bullying of people because of their “sexual identity or expression”, and also “transphobic bullying”.

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The research found sexual bullying was widespread and is increasingly being done with the use of smartphones or on social media websites. The academics say this was common across all the countries involved in the research: Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.

The young people involved highlighted that sexual bullying was now widespread in their daily lives.

The project, entitled ‘Addressing Sexual Bullying Across Europe’, was led by Dr Tamara Turner-Moore and Dr Kate Milnes, with Professor Brendan Gough at Leeds Beckett.

Dr Turner-Moore said: “The results of our research suggest that young people are keen to be given space to talk about issues relating to sexual bullying.

“This kind of bullying appears to be a pervasive feature of young people’s lives that many find upsetting, yet its problematic nature is often overlooked or downplayed by young people, precisely because it has become such a taken-for-granted part of their everyday experiences.”

The second year of the programme involved the creation of an intervention programme which aimed to empower young people between the age of 13 and 18 to tackle and prevent sexual bullying.

On Wednesday January 28, a conference is taking place at Leeds Beckett University’s Rose Bowl, where the full results of the research will be discussed and the peer-to-peer intervention programme will be formally launched.