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The Things I Wish My Parents Had Known

August 2021

What is peer‐on‐peer abuse and harmful sexual behaviour?

Peer‐on‐peer abuse is often sexualised in nature and occurs between children of roughly the same age. It can happen online and offline. It is driven by harmful attitudes about sex, relationships, and gender, often held by adults as well as children. All of us have a role to play in tackling this.

Peer‐on‐peer abuse online

This guide focuses on how sexual harassment and peer‐on‐peer abuse happens online – including on social media, messaging, gaming and dating platforms. It also explores how content which children are stumbling across and consuming online – including pornography – drives harmful attitudes and behaviours.

Some examples of how sexual harassment can happen online:


These issues range from the problematic and harmful, through to illegal offences. It is important that parents feel comfortable in discussing the full spectrum of issues and how they may play out online.

Why is this a problem?

Some children have told us that peer‐on‐peer harassment is so common that they simply accept it as part and parcel of daily life. They say that too often, sexual harassment is not challenged or taken seriously by the adults in their lives.

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