Research from the NSPCC and the University of Bristol has found that one in three teenage girls suffer some form of sexual abuse in relationships with boyfriends, while a quarter suffer physical violence such as being slapped, punched or beaten. One in six have felt pressured to have intercourse, while one in 16 have been raped. Around 90 per cent of 13- to 17-year-olds of both sexes have been in intimate relationships, and girls who are in relationships with older boyfriends are more at risk of abuse, with three-quarters of them reporting that they have been victims.
A small minority of boys report having been pressurised into sexual activity - around one in 17 - and around 20 per cent have suffered physical violence from their girlfriends. However, it would seem that girls are more likely to keep quiet about the abuse they suffer, feeling that it's somehow normal or through fears that they would lose their boyfriends. It's alarming that so many think that abuse or violence is an acceptable part of what should be a loving relationship.
The report recommends that:
- Schools should raise awareness amongst pupils of the harm caused by controlling and physically or sexually abusive behaviour.
- Schools' peer support groups, which mainly tackle bullying, should expand their remit to provide support for young people suffering violent relationships.
- Professionals dealing with child protection and domestic violence cases should also check the safety of young people in the family who are in intimate relationships, especially girls with much older boyfriends.