Study suggests that LGBTQ+ youth feel unsafe online

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Image: iStock

It’s well known that cyber bullying is a scourge facing too many young people today. School bullies now target their victims after the final bell rings. Homes are no longer a safe haven for many victims.

According to education resource, Bullying No Way, one in five young people under eighteen experience online bullying. It is more common in secondary school than primary school.

It’s important to note that Bullying No Way advises caution when dealing with statistics on bullying.

Of course, numbers surrounding bullying can be hard to pinpoint due to lack of reporting. Shame and fear keep victims silent.

LGBTQ+ youth vulnerable to cyber bullying

The internet, especially social media has been an avenue of connection and exploration for young LGBTQ+ people. However, it can be hazardous too.

Cyber security blogger, Sarah Turner published an article on VPN Mentor suggesting that LGBTQ+ youth are vulnerable online.

In Turner’s study, 695 young people were surveyed. While it’s a small sample, the results are quite alarming.

  • 73% of all respondents claimed they’d been harassed online
  • 50%  of respondents had experienced sexual harassment online
  • Asexual people felt the least safe online of all sexual identities
  • Transwomen felt most unsafe online out of the gender identities. They also risked being outed.

This is not the only study to suggest LGBTQ+ youth are vulnerable online.

According to ConnectSafely, multiple studies from 2012 onwards concluded that LGBTQ+ young people are up to three times more likely to be cyber bullied than cisgender and straight peers. A 2012 study by Warren Blumenfeld and RM Cooper found that 52% of LGBTQ+ youth between 11 – 22 had been targets of cyber bullies a number of times.

In 2015, Centre of Disease Control (CDC) also found LGBTQ+ youth were more likely to be targets.

I’m usually skeptical of studies that rely on small sample sizes. But there’s a pattern that’s emerged that can’t be ignored.

 

Cyber bullying of LGBTQ+ people should be dealt with

One of the common arguments against the Safe Schools program was it’s emphasis on LGBTQ+ youth, rather than bullying as a whole.

If Australia is like the US in bullying rates, maybe we do need to have some LGBTQ+ – specific anti – bullying strategies.

I also think that many LGBTQ+ young people still face shame about their sexuality or gender identity. This prevents LGBTQ+ victims from reaching out for help. This exacerbates the pain and humiliation that bullying victims already experience. This is why I strongly believe that schools need to be openly supportive of LGBTQ+ students.

If this post has raised any issues with you or your loved ones, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 or via chat on their website

Kids Helpline (for those under 18): 1800 551 800

Like always, if you’re not from Australia, please provide any contact details of counselling services from your area in the comments below.

Final note: the VPN Mentor article was brought to my attention via an email (thank you to the emailer). If you would like to give me any articles, blog posts,  or anything else, you can contact me through comments section, the contact form or email me at: sharnetty@glycerinequeenmedia.com. I’ll try and get to as many responses/ emails as I can.

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