Teenage boys are sharing offensive memes about the Holocaust, rape and slavery to score “lad points” with their classmates, an expert has said. More than third (36 per cent) of schoolboys admit to sending or receiving racist or homophobic pictures – compared to just 17 per cent of teenage girls, new research has found. The Independent reports.
Nearly three-quarters of students, aged 11 to 18, have seen offensive memes on private group chats, according to a survey from Digital Awareness UK. And two in five boys see them every single day.
Emma Robertson, co-founder of Digital Awareness UK (DAUK), said the image-sharing ranged from the less serious to offensive images about “fat shaming”, the Holocaust, and the #MeToo campaign.
Speaking at the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference’s (HMC) annual conference in Manchester, she added: “There are certain memes which are inexcusable. When you’re joking about rape, when you’re joking about slavery, it is ‘banter’, but you are still going too far with that.
The survey of 20,000 students also revealed that 88 per cent of offensive content viewed by them was racist, 80 per cent was sexist, and 74 per cent as homophobic. “If you’re seeing this sort of content at least once a day, that’s going to affect you,” Ms Robertson added.
Mike Buchanan, executive director of HMC and former headteacher of Ashford School, said: “Teenagers, especially boys have always indulged in risky behaviour but it is disturbing that so many are receiving and sending racist and homophobic material.”
The figures come as DAUK and HMC launch a new campaign –which includes free lesson plans on healthy online living – to help pupils make good decisions about their technology use.
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