Once again, I can turn to the UK for progressive thinking on issues that matter to me — for example, they have been way ahead of the US in terms of developing curricula on cyberbullying and the grooming techniques of online predators. Now, they are starting to acknowledge that bullying using sexual content deserves specific mention. The BBC published an article on “sexual bullying,” which they simply define as “anything from sexualised name-calling to spreading rumours about someone’s sexual behaviour, to criminal offences such as assault and rape.” A UK-based online news site noted that 3500 students were expelled from school for sexual misconduct and that teachers were among the victims. Although this coverage on sexual bullying does not reference the internet specifically, I think it is an important step to separately consider bullying of a sexual nature from other types of harassment.
The BBC article focuses on a very basic survey of 273 11-19 year-olds (this is a PDF of the results in their entirety). While the sample size is too small and age range too large to really make anything of it, its presence makes me optimistic that more attention will be paid to it in the future. And maybe sexual bullying online will also begin to get notice. I have complained about the lack of connection between cyberbullying and sexuality before. Perhaps this connection will be made more often at least across the pond, if not here.