Teenage girls say they experience sexual harassment in their day-to-day lives and do not feel safe on the street alone.
In a survey of more than 2,000 young people aged 13-18, more than a quarter of girls (27%) said they had experienced sexual harassment in some form. Some 44% also said they do not feel safe while walking alone on the street.
The survey of 1,000 teenage boys and 1,000 girls, conducted by polling company Survation for BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Bitesize, also asked teenagers about topics including body image, anxiety, vaping and influencers, and reveals concerns about online safety.
The results suggest teenagers are concerned about the amount of pornography they see on social media. Almost a third who were surveyed had watched videos of controversial influencer Andrew Tate – and many said they had liked them. Hundreds of teenagers also said they feel anxious some or all of the time.
Since going into Year 7 aged 11, 13-year-old Bobbie says she feels much less safe making her way home from school.
“It can be quite scary sometimes,” Bobbie tells BBC Radio 5 Live. “Getting shouted at, people saying: ‘You look good babes.’ Sometimes it’s people grabbing my arm in the street – I was once chased by people two or three times my age.”
Princess, 14, says she has back-up routes worked out for her walk home from school – should she need to use them – and that she is “constantly checking” who is behind her.
Others say they have to be mindful of what clothes they are wearing when they go out.
“The way you look has a huge difference on what happens outside,” says 15-year-old Sonia. “If I’m in a dress or wearing a crop-top and tight clothing, I’m not going to have a peaceful day.”
Sixteen-year-old Rofeda worries that if she ignores or stands up to sexual harassment she might even be putting herself in danger.
“You don’t want it to escalate to things you can’t handle,” agrees Kayla, 18.
While 44% of girls said they do not feel safe on the street, almost a quarter of teenage boys (24%) also said they felt this way.
“If there’s a group of boys looking at me and I’m on my own and it’s dark, I fear for my safety,” says 15-year-old Ashley. “I worry about getting jumped – you see so many videos on social media about people being attacked and it makes you feel threatened.”
More needs to be done to help educate people about why it is not OK to sexually harass others, according to Rosie, 16, from women’s safety campaign, Our Streets Now.
“Telling them that it’s a crime – it’s not a compliment, it’s not a flattering thing,” she says, “this isn’t something that should be yelled across the street for someone minding their own business.”