The guidance comes in response to statistics showing that almost a quarter of gay young people experience cyberbullying. This abuse has a devastating impact on a young person’s self-esteem and in the worst cases can impact on mental health and well-being, leading to self-harm and suicide.
The publication also seeks to tackle deeply worrying levels of ‘sexting’ among gay young people. New research published today by Stonewall, in association with ChildLine, reveals the shocking extent to which gay young people share sexually explicit images of themselves.
The research shows that lesbian, gay and bisexual teenagers are significantly more likely to send and receive sexually explicit material than young people in general. ‘Sexting’ is classified as the sharing of self-generated sexually explicit images or videos by mobile phone or online.
Shockingly, 59 per cent of all gay young people who participated in the survey had created a sexual photo or video of themselves. This compares to 40 per cent of straight young people who responded. Of the gay young people who created these images, 47 per cent sent it to someone they knew online but had never met in real life.
Stonewall’s Acting Chief Executive Ruth Hunt said: ‘It’s disturbing but unsurprising to see these deeply worrying statistics. The internet can be a real lifeline for lesbian, gay and bisexual young people who feel isolated and alone. However, sadly, it also leaves them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. We’re delighted to work with O2 to publish Staying Safe Online which will help teachers and parents provide practical ways to keep gay young people safe online and help them find vital age-appropriate information.’
Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer at Telefónica O2 said: ‘As a leading communications company in a digital world, we think businesses need to do more to support young people. This means not only helping them make the most of their digital skills, but helping them to be safe online.
As a Director at O2 and Board Sponsor for Diversity & Inclusion I believe we have a responsibility to help all young people stay safe online and we are proud to be working with Stonewall towards that goal.’
For further information visit: www.stonewall.org.uk/safeonline