One In Six Children Faces Unwanted Sexual Harassment In Public From The Age Of Ten
Collaborations,  Press Release

One In Six Children Faces Unwanted Sexual Harassment In Public From The Age Of Ten

One In Six Children Faces Unwanted Sexual Harassment In Public From The Age Of Ten. Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be sharing a press release from Crimestoppers UK. Crimestoppers UK is an independent charity helping communities’ Speak up. Stay safe—a new Crimestoppers-commissioned report and survey. 1,800 respondents across the UK completed an online survey. All participants responded to our call via social media to share their views and experiences about sexual harassment. Therefore, the participants were self-selecting and not random. The survey was conducted from December 2021-January 2022, and the qualitative research was completed in April 2022. Most of those who responded experienced sexual harassment for the first time during adolescence or childhood. Fewer than 1% of victims felt flattered after their most recent harassment experience. Many victims changed their behaviour and shunned specific places to avoid a repeat.

One In Six Children Faces Unwanted Sexual Harassment In Public From The Age Of Ten

A major new survey and report commissioned by the charity Crimestoppers has shed light on general attitudes to sexual harassment and the age at which victims are targeted.

Of those that responded, around one in six people who answered said their first experience of sexual harassment in a public place happened when they were ten or even younger.

Whilst 1,800 people participated in the survey, none of the questions was mandatory. This means that respondent numbers per question are lower than overall participant numbers. Due to the sensitivity of the subject matter, the University recommended using optional questions to encourage more people to participate.


Key Findings Are:

  • Around one in six participants (16.8%) first experience occurred when they were aged ten or younger (3.7% aged 0-5, 13.1% old 6-10)
  • 30.9% of participants first encountered unwanted sexual behaviour between the ages of 14-16 
  • Almost the same percentage (29%) first experienced unwanted approaches between 11-13 years.

These shocking findings demonstrate that the majority encountered sexual harassment for the first time during adolescence or childhood. Shockingly, the survey also found that 10% of women said they had been raped, with 23% saying they had been `forced’ to have sex.

The report, by the University of Suffolk and commissioned by Crimestoppers, follows the impact of the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment. Crimestoppers has also launched a national campaign today to challenge attitudes and encourage reporting on those responsible.

One In Six Children Faces Unwanted Sexual Harassment In Public From The Age Of Ten
Figure 17: Age at the first experience of unwanted sexual behaviours or interactions in public spaces [P29]
In a clear message to the culprits, fewer than 1% of victims said they felt flattered, attractive or desired after their most recent harassment experience. [P33].

Strikingly, around 78% of female participants spoke of experiencing unwanted questions about their sex life, and two-thirds experienced staring (leering) and commented on their clothes, body or appearance. [P23, Figure 10]. The research found that respondents changed their behaviour or activities to avoid repeated incidents. With nearly 10% (9.8%) shunning outdoor areas where they had previously encountered unwanted sexual behaviours.

One In Six Children Faces Unwanted Sexual Harassment In Public From The Age Of Ten
Figure 10: Lifetime prevalence of unwanted sexual behaviours in public spaces: female participants [P23]

More than a third (38%) have been followed, and nearly a quarter (23%) have witnessed flashing/genital exposure. Whilst the most prominent perpetrators were strangers, classmates closely followed them during their younger years, then acquaintances and colleagues in later life.

Comments From Crimestoppers UK

Lydia Patsalides, VAWG (Violence Against Women and Girls) sexual violence lead at the charity Crimestoppers, said: “This research confirms that all forms of sexual harassment begin at a shockingly early age, which is entirely unacceptable.

“It raises the question to those men involved: would you accept this behaviour towards those closest to you, such as a partner, female friend, or daughter? Crimestoppers are participating in the conversation as these normalised behaviours can escalate, with some perpetrators committing the most serious crimes, such as rape and child abuse.

“We know this is a difficult and complex and won’t be solved with one study. However, we must have a frank and realistic discussion. We must all play our part in helping change behaviour and think seriously about how sexual harassment affects others.”

Mick Duthie, Director of Operations at the charity Crimestoppers, said: “As a father of two daughters and an ex-police officer who dealt with the tragic circumstances of violence against women and girls, I understand the impact unwanted sexual behaviour has on victims.

“It’s important that we all understand the issue and take steps to educate ourselves on what is and is not appropriate. Our research shows that many young girls are targeted, so we must take positive measures to protect them.”

Dr Katherine Allen from the University of Suffolk said: “In a post #MeToo era, these findings are shocking but unsurprising. Our survey underscores that sexual harassment is common, perpetrated across many public spaces, and remains highly gendered, disproportionately impacting women and girls and limiting their ability to exercise everyday freedoms.

“Chiming with national and international studies, our research suggests that women and girls are subject to unwanted sexualised behaviours from an early age. And overwhelmingly experience these behaviours as intrusive, uncomfortable and intimidating.”

Survey Participant Comment

“I think a lot of the time, perpetrators are completely oblivious to how their actions make the other person feel. Being sexually harassed makes me feel genuinely scared for my safety and scared to anger the person in case they get violent.”

Crimestoppers is a standalone charity independent of the police and takes crime information whilst guaranteeing total anonymity. By never asking for or storing personal details, it encourages people to come forward who might otherwise stay silent. The process means no courts, no witness statements and no comeback.

If you know a work colleague/friend/relative or neighbour who is involved in any criminal aspect of sexual harassment – please tell our charity. To pass on crime information completely anonymously, visit our website and fill in the simple and secure anonymous online form. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers’ UK Contact Centre, which is open 24/7, 365 days a year, on freephone at 0800 555 111.

Please note: Computer IP addresses are never traced, and no one will ever know you contacted Crimestoppers. There is no number display for telephone calls, no 1471 facility, and calls have never been traced.

Due to the guarantee of anonymity, Crimestoppers cannot take information from victims who need to speak directly to the police or seek help from the following organisation:

  • Victim Support – independent charity in England & Wales that provides specialist practical and emotional support to victims and witnesses of crime on 08 08 16 89 111

I hope you enjoyed that.

Talk soon.

One In Six Children Faces Unwanted Sexual Harassment In Public From The Age Of Ten

About CrimeStoppers

Crimestoppers is an independent charity helping communities Speak up. Stay safe.’ Our 0800 555 111 telephone number and website gives people the power to speak up and pass on information about crime 100% anonymously. For over 30 years, we have always kept this promise.

Alongside our national campaigns, we have hundreds of volunteers across the UK who help us promote our services to those that need to hear about them. Every region of the UK has a Crimestoppers team responsible for raising awareness of our charity and running local campaigns about issues that affect their area. Around ten people are arrested and charged daily due to information given to Crimestoppers.

Working with Strong women, I help empower women not to give up on their goals and find true happiness within themselves. #lifestyle #womenempowerment #selfcare


  • Nayna Kanabar

    The figures are shocking. In this day and age we really need to be aware of this fully , educate our selves on the importance and also teach our kids to be strong and prepare them to face such challenges.

  • Rosey

    Oh my gosh, I remember it from being a child. There were some places you couldn’t even walk down the street without unwelcome comments or advances. WTH .

  • Gervin Khan

    This is a great article to read and be aware of! As nowadays it has many incidents of this and this is so alarming and troublesome! Hope that we can stop this unruly act or reduce it gradually! It’s not helping the community! Thanks for bringing this topic to the open!

  • Luna S

    Speaking up for yourself & for others you see it happening to is always a great way to help try to reduce how often it happens. I know I had an experience or two as a teenager that was uncomfortable. I’ve always loved going to concerts but what I didn’t enjoy was how often men stood practically millimeters away from my back side during shows (on purpose, not because it was crowded). Usually a stern “what the hell do you think your doing?” seemed to help.

  • Beth

    We need to support more charities like Crimestoppers. It’s always good to support such organizations that help communities speak up.

  • Olga

    Oh, my kids are still young, but sexual harassment already scares to a lot. I hope we will find a way to stop it. Kids deserve a safe environment, not only at home.

  • Debbie

    Thank you for bringing awareness to a serious topic. I was completely unaware that one In six children faces unwanted sexual harassment In public and to learn it starts at the age of 10. Very eye-opening post.

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