New NSPCC research suggests the levels of violence in teenage relationships may be much higher than previously assumed.
More than half of girls questioned for the research said that they had been a victim of physical violence in at least one of their intimate relationships, with a quarter of boys saying they had dated physically aggressive partners.
Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone said, the government wants to challenge the attitudes that foster an acceptance of abusive relationships by intervening as early as possible.
‘Bringing the issue out in the open will help teenagers feel confident to challenge abusive behaviour when they experience it or see it’, she explained.
This is abuse
The ‘This is Abuse’ campaign aims to prevent the onset of domestic violence in adults by changing attitudes amongst teenage boys and girls aged 13-18.
The adverts are running across youth TV channels, youth websites and in cinemas with posters in shopping malls and college washrooms, and are designed to raise awareness among teens about what constitutes abuse and violence in their relationships. Examples include controlling behaviour and emotional abuse such as hurtful name calling and checking mobile phones.
Teenagers are encouraged to stop abusive behaviour or seek help by visiting www.direct.gov.uk/thisisabuse where they can find further advice and support as well discuss the issue with their peers.
The NSPCC findings suggest that teenagers outside of the education system are not only more likely to experience relationship abuse but the abuse they experience is often much more severe than that experienced by their counterparts within the education system. They are also likely to view such abuse as a normal, if unwanted part of a relationship.
Andrew Flanagan, Chief Executive of the NSPCC, said:
‘It’s appalling that violence in these relationships seems to be just part of daily life. These findings underline how important it is for children to be educated about abusive behaviour and for them to feel able to seek help to prevent it happening.’
This study builds on the report, ‘Partner exploitation and violence in teenage intimate relationships’ conducted by NSPCC in 2009.