FAQ Contact Us


LONDON / AGILITYPR.NEWS / November 19, 2020 / EMARGOED UNTIL 00.01 NOVEMBER 19, 2020

  •  Wide-scale study of nearly 15,000 UK school children reveals the number experiencing racism or homophobia online has jumped dramatically in the last four years
  • The Cybersurvey run by Youthworks in partnership with Internet Matters reveals 1 in 7 (15%) school children aged 11-16 received messages that were insulting about gay (LGBT+) people, while 1 in 8 (13%) were sent messages that were racist
  • Findings released to support Anti-Bullying Week, which this year calls for people to unite against bullying

Thursday, November 19. London, UK. ​The number of children who personally received racist or homophobic messages online in the UK has more than trebled over four years, Internet Matters reveals today.

While cyberbullying figures among children aged 11 to 16 have remained stable, new figures reveal how 15% received messages that were insulting about gay (LGBT+) people, up from 4% in the sample collected in 2015.

The percentage saying they have personally experienced racist bullying or aggression rose from 4% to 13%, according to the study of nearly 15,000 school children by Youthworks in partnership with Internet Matters.

Cyberbullying in general has remained stable over time, with 22% of children saying they have been cyberbullied, compared to 21% four years before. However, fewer feel they can tell someone if they have been victims of online bullying, with 35% saying they kept it to themselves versus 27% in 2015.

Meanwhile, nearly a quarter (23%) of children received messages insulting the way they look, 12% received sexist messages, 9% that were ‘rude about my disability or that of a family member’ and 5% insulting their religious beliefs.

The findings come from Youthworks’ latest Cybersurvey - carried out in partnership with Internet Matters – which is one of the largest and most robust survey of its kind in the UK, with nearly 15,000 children taking part across 82 schools across the country.

The figures have been released to support Anti-Bullying Week, which this year has the theme ‘United Against Bullying’, highlighting the collective efforts to reduce bullying.

Carolyn Bunting, CEO of Internet Matters,​ said: “Our figures show an alarming jump in the number of children who say they’ve received either racist or homophobic messages online.

“For parents and carers, it shows how important it is right now to have conversations with your children about the sorts of messages they are sending and receiving, as well as opening up conversations about cyberbullying.

“Whether they are personally the victim of online abuse, or witnesses to it, children should be supported so that they know how to report it to a trusted adult and report it to the platform they are using.

“Both Internet Matters and the Anti-Bullying Alliance have resources on our websites in case you are worried your child may have been the subject of online bullying, with simple step-by-step guidance.”

Adrienne Katz of Youthworks​, who authored The Cybersurvey, said: “It was eye-opening that more than 4,000 children who took part in the survey said they’d had personal experience of online aggression in comments and messages.

“When a young person is online in a climate of aggression and insulting comments, it can make them feel unsafe or even guilty that they cannot stop it. If it is widespread, it can make it seem as though bullying and discrimination are accepted.

“Most worryingly, for almost a third of children, even after they told someone they were being cyberbullied, it continued, suggesting parents and teachers need to improve their responses to these children.”

For more information, advice and support on how to keep your child safe online, go to internet matters.org. 

About Us

Notes for Editors

About The Cybersurvey

Adrienne Katz, director of Youthworks has consulted 14,944 young people aged between 11 and 17 about their lives online. In this annual survey, trends are tracked, new issues are explored and young people’s thoughts and feelings are shared with those who live with or work with them. The research programme was developed with the Department of Psychology at Kingston University, London, and in 2019 Youthworks partnered with Internet Matters to take the survey across the country. 

About Internet Matters

Internet Matters (​internetmatters.org​) is a not-for-profit, industry-funded members body that helps families stay safe online, providing resources for parents, carers and educational professionals. It was established in 2014 by BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media and its members include BBC, Google, Samsung, Facebook, Huawei, ByteDance, Supercell and ESET. It is a member of the Executive Board of UKCIS (UK Council for Internet Safety), where it leads the working group for vulnerable users and was a member of The Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying, founded by the Duke of Cambridge. It works with partners from across the industry, government and third sector to raise awareness and provide advice on the issues affecting children in the digital age, including cyberbullying, screen time, digital resilience, extreme content, privacy and exploitation.