Scotland’s Online Abuse Affecting Young People Campaign #ΑWayOutOfViolence

Technology, be it TikToK, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Livestreaming, YouTube or other social media networking, video, gaming and messaging sites are used by teens worldwide. As places to keep in touch with friends and as part of forging personal identity, the online world forms a vital part of young people’s lived experiences.

There is, however, a darker side to the online world. An Ofcom report (2023) found that almost 1 in 3 young people aged 8-17 in the UK had experienced someone being hurtful or nasty to them via online technology, compared to 1 in 5 who had experienced this offline. Young people have the ability to be connected to each other 24/7, meaning that there is scope for misuse and/or abuse at any time. “Cyber abuse,” or, more commonly in the UK, “online abuse,” refers to technology, such as mobile phones, computers, gaming devices and tablets, being used in a way to cause another person to feel distressed and/or intimidated. Online abuse affecting young people takes many forms. It can involve:

  • Sending someone threatening/abusive text messages
  • Creating and / or sharing embarrassing images or videos (including intimate images / videos)
  • Trolling (sending upsetting messages on social media sites, chatrooms or through online games)
  • Excluding others – from friendship groups or activities
  • Setting up hate groups about someone
  • Shaming someone online
  • Sending explicit messages without consent
  • Creating fake accounts pretending to be someone else
  • Hijacking somebody’s online account and fraudulently using their name (NSPCC, 2024).

Research suggests that young people may be reluctant to disclose online abuse, particularly if it is of a sexualised nature (Safelives, 2015) and some may feel partly responsible for the abuse. Young people (and adults who support young people) may also not know what they can do if they or someone else is being subjected to online abuse.

The ISEDA campaign around online abuse, developed and implemented by Glasgow Caledonian University, consists of an animated video, toilet stickers and leaflets aiming to inform young people about online abuse. It focuses on exactly what online abuse is and the forms it can take, as well as providing information on what young people can do if there are subjected to online abuse. Key messages of the campaign are that young people are not to blame if they are subjected to online abuse, that they should speak to someone they trust and that there are people and organisations who can support them. The campaign will be used as part of ISEDA’s educational campaign in Scottish Secondary Schools in autumn 2024, and translated into Finnish and Greek to be used in these countries.


NSPCC (2024). Bullying and cyberbullying. Retrieved 20 May, 2024 from

Ofcom (2023). Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes. Retrieved 20 May, 2024 from

Safelives (2015). Practice briefing for professionals working with young people Working with young people experiencing or at risk of online abuse. Retrieved 20 May, 2024 from