Tuesday, 1 September 2009

NSPCC report on sexual violence

Sexual bullying and sexual violence has become an increasing policy and practice concern. And the NSPCC today launched an interesting report about the experience of teenage girls in relationships that adds to the evidence as to why this must be a concern. The research, a study of almost 1400 13 - 17 year olds shows that a third of teenage girls suffer unwanted sexual acts in a relationship and a quarter physical violence.

The survey of 13 to 17-year-olds found that nearly nine out of ten girls had been in an intimate relationship. Of these, one in six said they had been pressured into sexual intercourse and 1 in 16 said they had been raped. Others had been pressured or forced to kiss or sexually touch. In addition quarter of girls had suffered physical violence such as being slapped, punched, or beaten by their boyfriends.

Nearly nine out of ten boys also said they had been in a relationship. A smaller number reported pressure or violence from girls. (Only one in seventeen boys in a relationship reported being pressured or forced into sexual activity and almost one in five suffered physical violence in a relationship).

Girls were much more likely to find this behaviour harmful - more than three in every four compared to one in ten boys. Girls also reported that they suffered more repeatedly in relationships and at a younger age.

Sian, one of the girls 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."

Having an older boyfriend was found to put girls at a higher risk, with three-quarters of them saying they had been victims. Girls from a family where an adult had been violent towards them, one of their parents, or siblings, were also at greater risk.

For boys, having a violent group of friends made it more likely that they would be a victim, or be violent themselves, in a relationship.

Bobby, one of the boys interviewed for the report, said: "I think there's probably more pressure on boys, but if a girl goes out with a lot of people she's called a 'slut' or a 'slag' or something, but if it's a boy he's just one of the lads if he

I have yet to read the full report, but it is clear from what i have read so far that sexual violence is a really important issue and that gender plays a really significant part in the way young people understand and navigate their sexual relationships.

That is why Brook's annual conference on March 4th 2010 is focusing on gender. To find out more about the conference BoyGirlManWoman - putting gender at the heart of sexual health and teenage pregnancy work email events@brook.org.uk

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