A consistent finding from our panels, across ages and geographies, was the different pressures experienced by boys and girls in relation to image-sharing.
The pressures girls feel
Every female panel discussed the (seemingly unrelenting) pressure that they felt to send nude images online:
‘I don’t know one girl that has pressured a boy for nudes but on Snapchat when I wake up, I’ll have like 15 messages from 50-year-old men asking me to randomly send them nudes. I just report it.’ (Girl, aged 14-16)
Girls identified that this pressure derived from unhealthy male peer group cultures:
“[Boys see it] like it’s a joke or a competition. But it doesn’t feel like that for the other person. They feel they have to do it and send one back. Even though they don’t want to. There is pressure to be seen to be cool.” (Girl, aged 11-13)
For this reason, girls felt that there should be a greater focus on tackling perpetrator behaviour directly. They want boys to know that ‘it isn’t cool or funny’ to pressure girls for nudes, and a greater emphasis should be placed on the harm and distress that this behaviour causes.
The pressures boys feel
Likewise, boys discussed an ‘invisible’ top down pressure they felt from boys in older age groups to procure and distribute images of girls. While few boys had experienced harassment to share a nude of themselves, they felt expectation (both directly and indirectly) from male peers to share intimate images of girls. Boys agreed that a greater focus on resisting pressure from male peers would help to alleviate this.
‘Don’t copy the elders, we’re getting influenced by the elders. You feel like you have to follow the older boys to be accepted. Just a feeling about following the norm,’ (Boy, aged 11-13).
‘You don’t feel accepted by the older boys [if you don’t send nudes]. We feel like we have to follow on,’ (Boy, aged 11-13)
To support this, boys also felt that there was a role for messages about the consequences of sharing nude images online:
‘Imagine how it will affect your future once you tap send,’ (Boy aged 11-13).