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Chris Cloke of NSPCC tells Mike Duran about a survey of teenage sexual relationships Link to this audio
- Sexual exploitation rife in relationships, says NSPCC
- Quarter of young women are beaten up, poll shows
One in three teenage girls has suffered sexual abuse from a boyfriend and one in four has experienced violence in a relationship, according to an in-depth study published today.
The survey, by the NSPCC and Bristol University, found that of the 1,353 teenage girls and boys questioned across the UK, nearly 90% of girls aged 13 to 17 had been in an intimate relationship. A similar number of boys had been in relationships.
A quarter of girls had suffered physical violence, including being slapped, punched or beaten by their boyfriends, according to the study.
As part of the research, 91 young people were questioned at length. Of the girls, one in six said that they had been pressured into having sex and one in 16 claimed to have been raped.
Others who took part in the study said that they had been pressured or forced to kiss or intimately touch their boyfriends.
A small minority of the boys – one in 17 – reported being pressured or forced into sexual activity and almost one in five suffered physical violence in a relationship.
Many of the girls said they felt they had to put up with the abuse because they felt scared or guilty, or feared they would lose their boyfriend.
The NSPCC said that having an older boyfriend placed young girls at a higher risk of abuse, with three-quarters of them saying they had been victims.
Young women from a family where an adult had been violent towards them were also at greater risk.
For boys, having a violent group of friends actually made it more likely that they would become a victim, or be a perpetrator of violence, in a relationship.
One of the authors of the report, Professor David Berridge, of Bristol University, said: “The high rate and harmful impact of violence in teenagers’ intimate relationships, especially for girls, is appalling.
“It was shocking to find that exploitation and violence in relationships starts so young. This is a serious issue that must be given higher priority by policymakers and professionals.”
Sian, one of the girls who was interviewed for the research, said: “I only went out with him for a week. And then, because I didn’t want to have sex, he just started picking on me and hitting me.”
Another girl, Tanisha, said about her boyfriend: “He bit me on the face. It was horrible, really disgusting. When I am trying to show my point of view, he doesn’t appreciate it.”
The report, which was part-funded by the Big Lottery Fund (the largest single distributor of National Lottery money to good causes), reminds schools of the need to raise awareness of relationships where there is harmful, controlling and abusive behaviour.
It recommends that anti-bullying groups at school should tackle violent relationships and that child protection professionals should consider teenagers who are in intimate relationships, especially girls with older boyfriends.
Samantha, who was 14 when she started going out with her boyfriend, who was a year older, said things were fine with the couple to start with but that he began to become possessive and would not leave her alone. “Whenever I went out with my friends or even by myself, I would get bombarded with phone calls and texts demanding to know where I was, what I was doing and who I was with.
“It just became too much. I felt like he was right with me all the time. I couldn’t get away from him.”
She said that her boyfriend phoned the house so many times, her mother realised something was wrong and was very supportive.
“Finally there was a confrontation one day at school and he hit me in the face. It started a big fight because some of my friends were with me but fortunately staff managed to break it up. After that I didn’t see him for a while and eventually things quietened down.”
Diane Sutton, head of policy and public affairs at the NSPCC, said: “It is shocking to find so many young people view violence or abuse in relationships as normal.
“Boys and girls are under immense peer pressure to behave in certain ways and this can lead to disrespectful and violent relationships, with girls often bearing the brunt. Young people need to learn to respect each other.”
She added that parents and schools could perform a vital role in teaching children about loving and safe relationships and what to do if they are suffering from violence or abuse.
Tuesday 1 September 2009
Source: The Guardian