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Child exploitationDigital skills

Young people and frontline staff demand better protection online

A group of young people browse their phones whilst sitting on a wall. Overlaid is text that reads "Online Harms Research Hub".

The Catch22 Online Harms Consultation was launched in May 2020, acknowledging the increasing amount of time young people were spending online as a result of the lockdown. We received responses from young people, frontline professionals, from tech platforms and from commissioners on the challenges of online harms.

What did the consultation tell us?

More than 70% of young people have seen content online that they’ve found concerning, referring to specific violent and explicit content, according to Catch22’s National Online Harms Consultation results released today.

Young respondents have called for quicker responses to addressing harmful content, blocking fake accounts, and restricting use for harmful users.

The survey, conducted between June and July 2020, gathered insights from 75 frontline youth and support workers and teachers, 22 young people we work with, and service managers and commissioners nationwide, as well as researchers and tech giants Facebook and BT.

Key findings showed that:

  • 32% of young people have seen harm occur offline because of something which happened online.
  • Only 40% report online harms to the platform they are using.
  • Only 27% feel safe online all the time.
  • 73% have seen content online that they’ve found concerning, referring to specific violent and explicit content.

With online harms legislation still being delayed, Catch22 is highlighting the urgent need to recognise what young people want to see to make for a safer online world.

Catch22 CEO, Chris Wright, said the results reflect what those working directly with vulnerable youth are seeing every single day:

“In our schools and community services, across victim support and child exploitation work, we are seeing more and more young people relying on the internet and the platforms that go with it and reporting disturbing behaviour online.

“There is still a huge lack of knowledge in this space and at a time when we need the huge benefits of an online world – connectivity, a sense of community, and access to education – we must do what we can to stay one step ahead of the risks and keep young people safe.”

In the consultation, service commissioners and frontline staff, including teachers and youth workers, also called for more education, both for themselves and parents and guardians.

Catch22 will be using the insights from this early-stage consultation to conduct further research, influencing the development of future programmes and existing services.