Severe sexual harassment on social networking sites: Belgian adolescents’ views

  • Van Royen K
  • Vandebosch H
  • Poels K
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Online sexual harassment is increasingly encountered by adolescents and is associated with various negative psychosocial outcomes. In particular, social networking sites (SNSs) may facilitate sexual harassment. This study used focus groups to examine sexual harassment on SNSs from adolescents’ (aged 12–18 years) point of view: what do they perceive as severe cases and who do they think should play a role in addressing them. The qualitative data suggested that sexual harassment was appraised as more severe when it concerned personally targeted gender harassment, situations with restricted escape possibilities, the use of insulting words, the non-consensual use of pictures for sex-related purposes, or frequent adult-initiated sexual attention. Adolescents think that educating potential victims and harassers is important. In addition, SNS providers can play a crucial role in decreasing the impact of sexual harassment by providing a safe environment and by warning or sanctioning harassers. © 2015 Taylor & Francis.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Appraisal of severity
  • Prevention
  • Sexual harassment
  • Social networking sites

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  • Kathleen Van Royen

  • Heidi Vandebosch

  • Karolien Poels

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