Teenage girls ‘do not feel safe’ in UK, poll shows

Teenagers say social media companies should do more to stop pornography being viewed accidentally

Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 20 September 2023 11:23 BST

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Teenage girls in the UK have said they do not feel safe walking on the streets alone and more than a quarter have experienced some form of harassment, a damning new poll has shown.

Highlighting the scale of the problem for young Britons, some 44 per cent of girls said they do not feel safe when walking alone, while 27 per cent said they experienced sexual harassment including being exposed to pornography, according to the study by BBC Radio 5 Live.

The poll surveyed 2,000 teenagers – an equal number of boys and girls aged 13-18 – who were asked questions on a range of topics, including anxiety, social media, vaping, pornography, and sexting.

Among those who experienced abuse, a third (37 per cent) said they experienced verbal abuse such as name-calling and being yelled at, while 19 per cent said they experienced sexual harassment, like leering or wolf whistles, the survey said.

Over 33 per cent of adolescents aged 13 to 18 have reported encountering pornography online, and an overwhelming 73 per cent of teenagers believe that social media and technology companies should intensify their efforts to prevent accidental access to such content on the internet.

A fifth of the 980 teenage girls in the poll said they received unsolicited nude images or videos from a peer while 16 per cent of both male and female said they were requested by their peers to share nude pictures or videos.

Nearly one-third of those surveyed had viewed videos featuring contentious influencer Andrew Tate, and a significant number expressed positive sentiments about these videos.

Around 24 per cent of the adolescent boys who were surveyed said they also felt unsafe in the streets.

On the controversial issue of vaping on which the government is considering a ban, 32 per cent said they have tried it at least once.

In a recent study by Material Focus, it was discovered that the UK disposes of five million single-use vapes weekly, marking a fourfold rise from 2022.

However, 66 per cent of teenagers said they felt positive about their future and they currently placed the highest value on their families.

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