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Over a third of UK teenagers don’t feel safe walking down the street finds BBC 5 Live/Bitesize survey

Over a third of teenagers aged 13-18 said they do not feel safe walking down the street by themselves, according to an exclusive survey commissioned by Salford-based BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Bitesize.

More than a third (37%) say they have experienced verbal abuse on the street, including name calling and being shouted at, whilst nearly one in five of the teenagers (19%) said they had experienced sexual harassment on the street, such as leering or wolf whistles.

The online poll, conducted by Survation, surveyed over 2,000 teenagers aged 13-18 asking them questions on a range of different issues affecting teenage lives. These topics ranged from anxiety and social media to more controversial issues such as vaping, so called ‘sexting’ and pornography.

The findings of the poll are being discussed live during the Teen23 Summit on BBC Radio 5 Live all day today (Wednesday 20th September.) Teen23 is an all-day event taking place at UTC in Salford, and the Midlands Art Centre in Birmingham, from where daytime programmes – breakfast to drive – will broadcast live with a teen audience who will get to have their say.

Key findings included:

Anxiety

More than a quarter of teenagers questioned said they feel anxious all or most of the time with a further 45% saying they feel anxious at least some of the time, with exams, school life, and peer pressure the being main reasons.

Adult content

More than a third of 13-18 year olds say they have seen pornography online, and 73 percent of teenagers said that social media and technology companies need to do more to stop pornography being viewed accidentally online.

The survey also suggested that 16% of teenagers had been asked to make or share nude pictures or videos by a peer and 17% said they had received unwanted nude images/videos from a peer.

Social Media and Influencers

More than half of teenagers surveyed (55%) said they followed online influencers and of those that do, more girls than boys said influencers made them feel they needed to change the way they look.

Nearly a third of teenagers (31%) said they had watched videos by controversial influencer, Andrew Tate.

Online safety

Nearly a third (31%) of those interviewed said they have messaged someone online that they didn’t know, and of those who have, 30% said they would consider meeting up in person.

Vaping

Vaping was also a big issue with 32 percent of the teenagers saying have tried it at least once. 67% sid they have never vaped.

The important things

The teenagers were also asked what matters the most to them in life with family coming out on top. The survey suggested that 66% of teens feel positive about their future, and that family is the most important thing in their lives right now.

Heidi Dawson, Controller of BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “Understanding how teenagers feel and think about the world is crucial and this survey provides fascinating insights. Some of the findings are concerning and the research shows there is a big conversation needed on teen issues. We are working closely with BBC Bitesize and will be discussing all the issues during our Teen23 summit on BBC Radio 5 Live all day.”

Head of BBC Education Helen Foulkes added: “BBC Bitesize is committed to understanding our audience so that we can support them in the best ways possible. We do that for curriculum subjects but this survey shows that teenagers are increasingly dealing with all kinds of other issues and considerations.

“We’ve always been committed to getting expert guidance on the things that matter most to young people to provide support for all teenagers, but particularly those that are unsure of where else to go.”

BBC Bitesize has developed a suite of helpful content and articles for teenagers that touch on some of the key themes from the survey which includes Bitesize Study Support articles from anxiety expert and author Joshua Fletcher, as well as information to help young people understand what healthy relationships should look like and key facts about the effects of vaping. In addition, Bitesize’s media literacy platform, Other Side of the Story, will feature content exploring AI for homework and phone usage.

The Teen23 summit is part of the BBC’s Across the UK strategy, bringing the corporation closer to audiences to better reflect, represent and serve all parts of the UK. By 2027/28 the BBC will be spending at the very least, an extra £700m cumulatively across the UK, generating an additional economic benefit of over £850 million. This will not only dramatically increase opportunities for jobs and training but improve representation on and off screen.

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