Report finds girls experience more sexual harassment online than boys and Minister for Women says action is needed

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Girls are being subjected to online harm in different ways to boys and suffering the brunt of unwanted nude photos and sexual harassment, a new government report has found.

Source: istock.com

The Ministry for Women's Insights to Digital Harm report found that conflict was more likely to escalate online for girls, and they were were more likely to receive unwanted nude images and have images of themselves shared by boys.

Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter said the breadth of the online harm collected in the report was disconcerting and required new preventative efforts.

"Every single young person in this report knew of someone badly affected by things happening online," Ms Genter said.

"This new report shows how girls experience online harm differently than boys, and tailored prevention approaches are needed.

"My message to young people is that 'You deserve to be safe, and you deserve support to get safe'. 

"Girls and boys in our study strongly supported prevention efforts, including education about norms, consent, mental health and respect.

"The research found that young people will not always ask their parents for help." 

The report covers young people's experiences with digital harm and draws on insights from 12 focus groups from schools across New Zealand.

Also found in the report was that girls were more likely to use social media like Instagram to manufacture or "curate" their identities.

Boys, in contrast, didn't see their online lives as integral to forming their identities.

As a consequence, there was found to be a greater disconnect between girls' online lives and their offline reality than boys.

Overall, girls reported being more "invested" and therefore more at risk of harm online.

However, girls were less likely to participate in "roasting", or ridiculing.

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