Queer women and gender minorities experience high rates of online abuse as minors

US researchers surveyed 2500 young adults about their experiences with digital abuse and harassment when they were minors. Cis-women who identified as a sexual minority (e.g., bisexual, lesbian, pansexual) and people who identified as a gender minority (e.g., transgender, gender fluid, other nonbinary gender) had the highest rates (more than 50%) of experiencing such abuse and harassment before turning 18. The authors write that risky online behavior and sexting were contributing factors, but it wasn’t their disproportionate use that explains why these two groups are more at risk. Instead, these youths appear to be vulnerable targets of abuse from a young age, abuse that moves from in-person bullying, maltreatment, and sexual abuse to later include online sexual abuse. Targeted prevention and intervention efforts are needed, they write.

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