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Cyberviolence against women & girls: Research shows an undeniable need for training

Welcome to the second issue of the TRACeD newsletter! Our newsletter aims to share information on the project’s progress and next steps to support girls, young women, teachers, parents, authorities and professionals working with women and survivors of cyberviolence.

Within the framework of the project and in order to establish a clear evidence-based groundwork on the training needs of the target groups in Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Slovenia, a research plan was designed including 80 interviews with children, adolescent girls and students, as well as 36 focus groups with parents, teachers and professionals.

The main conclusion of this research which was carried out between June and August 2022 is the undeniable need for training  all the target groups, particularly parents, teachers, children, and young women..

Τop research findings 

  • Children: The analysis of the qualitative data depicted that children are not trained in schools on cyberviolence and how to protect themselves. Many female participants are afraid of criticism, so they do not share cyberviolence sexual incidents with their parents, friends or public authorities. Children also express frustration, because they dο not know how to help survivors of cyberviolence.
  • Parents: Parents underline that protecting minors from cyberviolence is a challenge, since their children are often more skilled (compared to them) in the use of technology. Although parents recognise the necessity of supervising their children’s online activity, the use of parental controls varies. Some parents consider parental control measures harmful to their relationship with children. Nonetheless, most parents share that they have monitored their children’s online use at least once.
  • Teachers: Teachers share their concerns on overstepping their authority, when it comes to helping students deal with cyberviolence. Furthermore, they express the need to enhance their own digital skills and highlight the inadequacy of measures applied within schools and the necessity to implement common guidelines and protocols.
  • Professionals: Professionals working with girls and young women state that specialized counselling services to students should be integrated in schools, in order to support survivors of cyberviolence incidents. They also shared concerns on the high levels of impunity from authorities.

Conclusions

  • Research corroborates the fact that cyberviolence is an emerging phenomenon.
  • The lockdown period, imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, contributed to the increased use of technology and the subsequent spread of cyberviolence together with gender-based stereotypes (i.e., objectification of the female body, denigration) and sexist hate speech.
  • Different opinions are expressed on the adequacy of the legal and policy framework. Some interviewees believe it is adequate, while others claim it as gender-blind and ineffective, thus local authorities need to form a more solid framework when responding to cyberviolence incidents.
  • Participants note the lack of sufficient resources and know-how; social services are burdened and their staff lacks experience and knowledge on responding to cyberviolence incidents.
  • There is a need for schools to adopt a curriculum which encompasses sexual education, respect and gender equality. Students are currently not informed about their rights, prevention mechanisms and available services, in case of cyberviolence incidents.

What’s next? Stay tuned to learn about our project’s progress and activities!