Experts exploring role of social media in sexual violence at major conference

Experts exploring role of social media in sexual violence at major conference

Research suggests that approximately 25 per cent of today’s youth are cyber bullied and only slightly less (18 per cent) cyber bully others. While cyber bullying is reportedly less common than traditional bullying, victims of cyber bullying report poorer psychosocial outcomes, including higher rates of depression and anxiety and decreased self-esteem.

Young people who are cyber bullied are two times more likely than non-bullied youth to attempt suicide and cyber bullies are 1.5 times more likely to attempt it. Some cyber bullying is now linked to sexual assault, in which victims are specifically targeted and their images and videos are posted online.

As these alarming statistics continue to climb, educators, parents, mental health and social service professionals, police, victim advocates and students are set to meet in London, Ontario for a major conference this Thursday and Friday (November 7-8), organized by Western University’s Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC) in collaboration with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Thames Valley District School Board.

Social Media and Sexual Violence Conference: Understanding the links to students’ mental health and well-being features addresses by noted author and social critic Jackson Katz and Carol Todd, the mother of Amanda Todd and the founder of the Amanda Todd Legacy Society.

There will also be a performance of a new interactive play on social media and sexual violence called “Tuned Out,” which is written and directed by Toni Wilson, Learning Coordinator, Safe Schools, Thames Valley District School Board, as well as presentations by Katie Cole and Melissa Gollan-Wills, Media Violence Specialists, Thames Valley District School Board and Alan Lescheid from Western’s Faculty of Education.

The conference, scheduled for Thursday, November 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday, November 8 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., will be held in the Faculty of Education’s Community Room (1137 Western Road).

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A part of Western’s Faculty of Education, CREVAWC was founded in 1992 in response to a federal study on the problem of violence against women, triggered by the 1989 murder of 14 women at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. Committed to the development and application of knowledge for the prevention of violence against women and children through promoting innovation, collaboration and equality, CREVAWC facilitates the collaboration of individuals, groups and institutions representing the diversity of the community to pursue research questions and training opportunities to understand and prevent violence and abuse.