Technology has advanced enormously in the past few years, and with it, social media too has gained excessive importance among people. Apart from sharing the fun hours of the day with the followers, it has also been widely used by organizations and governments to create awareness of specific concerns of society.
Being a part of a world where social media can actually be one of the reasons for increased sexual violence among teens and children, is it possible that it could be utilized for raising awareness among people and preventing sexual violence?
Over the past decade, social media has facilitated our lives in various ways. From marketing for business success to using the platform for finding new connections around the world, social media has become inevitable. As social media continues to gain fame among individuals, using it to raise awareness over a societal concern can amplify the message reach, targeting a much wider audience.
When we talk about social media, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter are just the tips of the iceberg. Social media, on the contrary, covers a much broader spectrum including several other platforms for communication and connection. Apart from social networking websites, other social media platforms are:
Forums: Forums are online platforms where people can converse over a topic with others having the same interest.
Blogs: Blogs are another form of social media wherein writers share their opinions on a particular topic and the readers can converse by commenting. Blogs can furthermore be shared across people on online social networking websites or through emails.
Discussion Sites: Discussion sites such as Quora and Reddit also allow people to communicate and connect.
Wikis: Like Wikipedia, Wikis are websites where anyone can add, delete or edit the content on a website.
Various other social media platforms have an active audience that can be targeted for sexual violence prevention.
How Can Social Media Help in Sexual Violence Prevention?
Many organizations use social media to raise awareness and bring evolution to existing ideas, laws, and knowledge among a wide population that interacts with these platforms. Furthermore, social media platforms do not have any regional barriers. Anyone from anywhere can use social media to voice their opinions and thoughts to reach people from all around the world. Here are a few ways how social media can help prevent social violence:
Raising Sexual Awareness
Social media has a wider audience that can be targeted to create sexual awareness. Experts with knowledge of sexual violence and sexual education can use the different types of platforms for transferring their knowledge to those who lack sexual education. In addition to that, news and recent incidents that often go unnoticed can as well be reported over social media. Presently, people including elders are more active on social media than on news websites or channels. Consequently, these platforms could be utilized to ensure that sexual assaults receive the societal attention that they require.
Victims Can Use Social Media
Reporting sexual violence is not as easy as it sounds. Victim blaming and lack of support from close ones are the biggest barriers. In such a circumstance, victims can use social media to make their voices heard. Furthermore, there are various forums where victims can share their experiences anonymously. Many social media accounts openly support sexual assault victims, which can help them take appropriate steps forward. In addition, these platforms and social media pages can also help combat the stress, anxiety, and many other mental illnesses that sexual violence comes with.
To Start Campaigns and Movements Online
#Metoomovement is the most renowned movement that united the entire world to speak up against sexual harassment. Many females from different parts of the globe came forward to share their 'never formerly shared' stories with people. Rape culture has become common, and we, as individuals, are failing when we use euphemisms to refer to such heinous crimes by blaming the victims and laughing on rape memes. Despite the many laws, countries fail to establish a safe environment for their citizens. Social media, nevertheless, can help unite victims with strategies like creating campaigns and movements against sexual violence.
Even though we understand that social media can be utilized for sexual violence prevention programs, we cannot ignore the fact that it also leads to higher risk of exposure to sexual violence. Many of the perpetrators use it to connect with their prospective victims, especially children. Furthermore, there have been numerous incidents and news in the past where sexual assault videos were circulated across the internet. In such circumstances, changes in the way the media functions are essential.
To use social media as a tool for sexual violence prevention, it is primarily important to learn how to stay safe on the platforms. Furthermore, it is crucial that networking websites protect their users. Also, children should be taught to make the best and safe use of the platforms as eliminating the internet is not a choice, but learning how to use it to your advantage is.
Not everything that takes place in our society is the fault of our governments and political officials. We, as citizens, are equally responsible. The bystanders of sexual violence are equally to be blamed for sexual violence that could have been avoided. Similarly, viewers watching and enjoying the sexual assault videos are a concern. One should avoid consuming such content and report it. After all, sexual violence is unacceptable.