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ARU Professor wins funding to study online sexual risks to young people

Published: 2 February 2021 at 12:22

Dr Tanya Horeck

Collaborative project will produce advice and resources for schools and parents

ARU’s Dr Tanya Horeck (Associate Professor in Film, Media and Culture) has been awarded funding of £211,580 through the UKRI/AHRC Covid-19 Rapid Response Call for a new study into online sexual risks for young people.

Combatting gendered and sexual risks and harms online during Covid-19 will use surveys and focus group interviews with up to 2,000 young people to explore different experiences of online sexual harassment during Covid-19 - a time when their reliance on the internet has greatly increased.

Working alongside co-collaborators Professor Jessica Ringrose (University College London) and Professor Kaitlynn Mendes (University of Leicester), Tanya will develop a set of interactive digital resources that provide accessible, tailored advice and information for young people, teachers, and parents, on how to stay safe online during the pandemic and beyond.

These resources will be piloted and tested in five UK schools before being launched online and delivered by award-winning sex education organisation the School of Sexuality Education (formerly Sexplain) and the Association of College and School Leaders (ASCL) to schools across the UK.

A final report containing advice and guidance for schools, parents, and tech companies on what is needed to better protect young people, including ways to report online sexual harassment and how to seek help, will also be made available.

The School of Sexuality Education are a non-profit sex education organisation that offers in-school workshops on porn, consent, sexting and positive relationships, as well as working with university students and youth groups, and providing staff training.

Tanya began working as an advisor with the organisation in 2019, with her research on rape culture and image-based sexual abuse feeding into their sex education and teacher training materials. In the summer of 2020, she co-wrote a set of policies for secondary schools on Online Sexual Harassment with Professor Ringrose and Professor Mendes for them, designed to help schools to cope with rising cases of intimate image-sharing amongst their students. These policies were incorporated into the government’s guidance to educators on nude image sharing in December 2020.