3 big ideas from our summit on online harassment

By Jessica Souza
October 25, 2021

For International Day of the Girl 2021, Plan International USA brought together two powerful forces: our network of young advocates, and young experts from organizations SafeBAE, Hollaback and Space to Speak.

Moderated by Jorge from Plan’s Youth Advisory Board, the virtual discussion focused on how to fight online harassment and misinformation.

Here are three big ideas that came out of the conversation. Get ready to be inspired (and maybe take some action!).

 

1. Sharing stories is important for survivors, and so is having a community. Dax from Hollaback sees firsthand how sharing stories can be a really meaningful way for survivors to heal. His organization set up Heartmob, an online community for people experiencing online harassment. Heartmobbers get access to tools and support that can help them respond to abuse. And, they’re able to know they’re not alone.

Emily from Space to Speak talked about how they carefully set up their discord channel as a safe, inclusive space for survivors — especially those in marginalized groups — that honors their different experiences and stories.

If you’re a survivor yourself, or you want to become an ally, consider joining these two communities.

 

2. More young people need to have the right information about sex and consent. Did you learn about consent in sex ed? Probably not. Aela from SafeBAE pointed out that only eight states (plus D.C) require consent to be included in classroom sex education. That means that many young people are missing out on that important lesson — and might be getting misinformation from their own research online. Most states don’t even require sex ed to be medically accurate, which is why Aela was told she could die from sex.

What can you do about this? Aela suggested contacting your own state government officials and supporting bills that require students to get the right information about sex and consent. Here’s where you can find their contact information.

 

3. Witnessing online harassment? There are ways for bystanders to intervene. We all have the power to intervene when we see online abuse, and Hollaback provides training on exactly that. Dax shared how to identify abusive tactics and then how to safely distract, delegate, document, delay or directly intervene (the five Ds). If you missed Dax’s bystander intervention training, you can sign up here for one of Hollaback’s sessions.

 

There was a lot more to the discussion, and you can watch the whole thing right here.

Ready to take action? Sign our petition to urge the Biden administration to support girls’ online freedom and convene a National Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse!