A current TikTok video that has been appreciated by virtually half one million individuals encourages ladies to report themselves placing one finger down for each time they’ve been despatched unsolicited dick pics, begged for nudes, catcalled, repeatedly requested out after already saying no, and compelled to do one thing sexual once they didn’t need to.

Comparable movies about sexual assault posted by younger ladies grew to become widespread in 2020. The new video is geared toward teenagers and focuses on sexual harassment. By calling consideration to how widespread sexual harassment is for teen ladies, the “Put a finger down: Sexual harassment version” video has grow to be the 2021 TikTok teen model of the #MeToo motion of 2017.

This development brings collectively two almost common realities within the lives of minor ladies: the ever-present presence of social media and the each day barrage of sexual harassment. As a developmental psychologist, I feel this development showcases how teenagers have developed a contemporary approach of dealing with a long-standing drawback.

Teenagers on-line

Pre-COVID-19, a Pew Analysis Middle ballot discovered virtually half of teenagers within the U.S. reported being on-line “virtually consistently.” Over the previous yr as they had been caught at residence throughout distant education, teenagers relied on social media much more to address the compelled social isolation.

Lockdowns and distant studying are particularly painful for teenagers, as a result of they’re on the developmental stage when the necessity to join with friends is at an all-time excessive.

On the identical time that teenagers are spending extra hours of their day on social media, the content material of what’s getting posted has grow to be more and more centered on social points and “real-life” challenges and worries.

Epidemic of minor sexual harassment

It solely is smart then {that a} widespread submit on social media addresses one of many greatest sources of stress in teen ladies’ lives: sexual harassment. Analysis with center college and highschool ladies has proven that in fifth grade one out of 4 adolescents have skilled sexual harassment within the type of sexual feedback, jokes, gestures or appears to be like. By eighth grade it’s one in two. My colleagues and I’ve discovered that 90% of ladies have skilled sexual harassment at the very least as soon as by the top of highschool.

It happens so generally, and in public areas like hallways and cafeterias, that by center college virtually all college students (96%) have witnessed sexual harassment taking place in school. If it isn’t within the college constructing itself, it’s on their telephones: 4 out of 5 teen ladies have had at the very least one pal who has been requested by a boy to ship a “horny or bare” image.

These sexual harassment experiences don’t go away ladies unscathed. Women describe sexual harassment as making them really feel “soiled – like a bit of trash,” “horrible,” “scared,” “indignant and upset” and “like a second-class citizen.” Seventy-six p.c of ladies report feeling unsafe as a result of they’re ladies at the very least infrequently.

The extra sexual harassment ladies expertise, the extra doubtless they’re to really feel emotional misery, melancholy and embarrassment, have lowered vanity, undergo from substance abuse and have suicidal ideas. Their attitudes about their our bodies grow to be extra detrimental, with many ladies not liking their very own our bodies and beginning to have the sorts of consuming behaviors that may result in consuming issues. And the extra sexual harassment ladies expertise, the extra doubtless they’re to undergo at school, be absent extra usually and disengage from lecturers.

Coping in isolation

But, regardless of the injury it’s inflicting, ladies hardly ever discuss their experiences. Though they report feeling scared, indignant, helpless and embarrassed, they hardly ever report the harassment to lecturers or mother and father and barely inform the harassers to cease – largely due to worries in regards to the social penalties.

Greater than 60% of minor ladies fear about retaliation, “that the opposite individual would attempt to get again at” them in the event that they confronted or reported the harasser. Greater than half of ladies fear that folks wouldn’t like them in the event that they stated one thing, or fear that folks will assume they’re “making an attempt to trigger bother” or “simply being emotional.” Half assume they gained’t be believed.

So, as an alternative of claiming one thing, greater than 60% of minor ladies say they attempt to “overlook about” or “ignore” the harassment, chalking it as much as “simply a part of life” as a woman. The issue with making an attempt to disregard sexual harassment is that it doesn’t work. A long time of analysis on the only methods to deal with tense occasions exhibits that looking for social assist and confronting the supply of the stress are way more efficient coping methods than making an attempt to downplay or ignore the issue.

Digital – however useful – connection

So, whereas the most recent social media hashtag fad might sound trivial, speaking about sexual harassment experiences in a TikTok video is probably going profoundly useful. Teenagers use social media to attach with others. Analysis has proven that, though passively scrolling via others’ social media feeds can lead individuals to negatively examine themselves with others, which may contribute to feeling envious of others’ seemingly higher lives, actively utilizing social media – by posting their very own ideas – can improve an individual’s sense of social connections.

Social connection, in flip, results in larger psychological well-being. This social media impact appears very true for ladies: In research during which ladies used social media to truthfully discuss themselves, they perceived larger social assist, and their well-being and constructive emotions obtained a lift.

This sense of sincere social connection is especially vital for teenagers who’ve been sexually harassed. Our analysis has proven that teen ladies usually tend to arise for themselves and confront perpetrators of sexual harassment once they consider their friends assist them. If sincere disclosures on social media about their experiences assist teen ladies really feel related with others, they might really feel empowered to say one thing in actual life, too.

Placing a highlight on sexual harassment

Past serving to the ladies who make the movies, this current social media development doubtless additionally advantages the individuals watching the movies. The 2017 #MeToo motion made greater than half of minor ladies really feel that they may inform somebody about what occurred to them. It helped them really feel much less alone.

It additionally helps label these pervasive on a regular basis behaviors as problematic. It’s good for ladies to acknowledge this doesn’t need to be only a “a part of life.”

It’s also good for boys to see that ladies usually are not flattered by these behaviors. Our analysis exhibits boys sexually harass ladies largely as a result of their pals do it and since it turns into the norm. They usually assume that is how boys are presupposed to specific romantic curiosity. Boys are hardly ever taught what sexual harassment is, they usually usually don’t notice how upsetting it’s to women.

Perhaps these 45-second movies, as an alternative of being only a fad, could be the general public service announcement all teenagers want.

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This text by Christia Spears Brown, Professor of Psychology, College of Kentucky, is republished from The Dialog below a Artistic Commons license. Learn the authentic article.

By Rana

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