Sex education urgently needs updating
We are calling on the government to take action to ensure teenagers get a clearer message about healthy relationships.
Claire Lilley, head of child safety online said:
“The levels of victimisation revealed by this research shows action is urgently needed by the government to make updated sex and relationship education a statutory right for every child and young person. There needs to be a greater focus in schools on topics such as sexual exploitation and violence against girls and young women, as part of a balanced curriculum.
“The high rates of sexual coercion discovered need to be addressed through education and awareness raising that challenges attitudes and helps change behaviour. We need to nurture children to have positive relationships based on mutual respect.”
"The high rates of sexual coercion discovered need to be addressed through education and awareness raising that challenges attitudes and helps change behaviour. We need to nurture children to have positive relationships based on mutual respect."
head of child safety online
The highest rates of sexual coercion were reported by teenage girls in England. Around 1 in 5 (22%) also said they had suffered physical violence or intimidation from boyfriends, including slapping, punching, strangling and being beaten with an object. In interviews with 100 of the children, many said the pressure to have sex was so great it almost became ‘normal’ and in some cases rape was not recognised.
The research in England was undertaken between 2013-2015 by a team of researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Central Lancashire led by NSPCC Senior Research Fellow, Dr Christine Barter.
The study was also carried out in Norway, Italy, Bulgaria and Cyprus, as well as England. It is one of the biggest of its kind ever undertaken in Europe, involving a school-based survey of 4,500 children and 100 interviews with young people.
Lead author Dr Barter, who is based at Bristol’s School for Policy Studies, said:
“Our research findings show that across Europe violence and abuse, both offline and online, in young people’s relationships constitutes a major problem, yet in most countries it remains unrecognised leaving young people with little support or appropriate services.”
Nicky Stanley, Professor of Social Work at the University of Central Lancashire and co-author, commented:
“Teenage girls reported serious distress and harm following abusive behaviour from boyfriends. Education and campaigns need to challenge stereotypical behaviour and attitudes in boys and the law in this area should be clearly communicated to young people, their parents and teachers.”
The research was funded by the Daphne III European Commission.
*1001 young people were surveyed in England