Report on online violence against girls and young women

Girls and young women who experience digital violence are leaving social media. This is the conclusion of Plan International's World Girls' Report "Free to be online - girls' and young women's experiences of digital violence". According to the report, 58 percent of the girls and young women surveyed experience threats, insults and discrimination on social media. In Germany, the figure is as high as 70 percent. For the report, the child rights organization surveyed more than 14,000 girls and young women aged 15 to 24 - 1,003 of them in Germany.

The consequences of online violence are serious: In Germany, 11 percent of those affected use social media less, 9 percent no longer post, and 5 percent leave the platforms altogether. In contrast to the global results, Instagram is the platform with the most attacks, with 45 percent in Germany, ahead of Facebook with 35 percent.

The forms of harassment experienced by the girls and young women surveyed, either personally or around friends, include name-calling and insults, sexual harassment, personal humiliation, body-shaming, racist comments, stalking, comments against sexual orientation, anti-LGBTIQ+, and threats of physical violence.

The study shows that girls and young women are regularly subjected to online attacks regardless of the countries in which they live. It is also apparent that current reporting mechanisms are clearly insufficient to effectively address this phenomenon. For this reason, Plan International Germany has initiated an open letter and calls on all users of social media to sign it and thus demand effective measures from the operators of digital platforms.

The most important results of the German survey at a glance:

  • 70 percent of respondents have experienced digital violence and harassment on social media. This is 12 percentage points higher than the figure for global respondents (58 percent).
  • The platform on which those affected in Germany experience the most harassment is Instagram (45 percent), followed by Facebook (35 percent), YouTube (22 percent), Snapchat (19 percent), TikTok (9 percent) and Twitter (8 percent).
  • 23 percent of affected girls feel anxiety from insults, put-downs and threats, which can be felt physically.
  • 32 percent of affected girls feel mental or emotional stress, and 30 percent have lower self-esteem or less self-confidence.
  • 11 percent of affected girls report using social media less, 9 percent stop posting, and 5 percent leave the platform.
  • 52 percent of those affected report inappropriate content. This puts Germany 17 percentage points above the global figure.

Further information