Relationship violence 'normal' to disadvantaged British teens

By Colin Ricketts - 15 Sep 2011 16:45:0 GMT
Relationship violence 'normal' to disadvantaged British teens

Research into violence in relationships finds that some disadvantaged British youngsters now accept physical and sexual abuse as a normal part of partnerships.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) funded researchers from the University of Bristol in examining the experiences of 82 youngsters aged from 13 to 18-years-old. The teenagers were considered disadvantaged because they were no longer in education and their number included convicted offenders and teenage parents.

While the team behind the research admit that such a small sample cannot be considered representative of the wider population, they argue that their research suggests that violence is much more prevalent than has been previously thought.

Of their study group, more than 50 percent of the girls had suffered sexual violence in a relationship; more than half also reported physical violence. The boys weren't immune from suffering abuse either; with around a quarter saying they had been the victims of physical abuse in a relationship.

Report author, Christine Barter, a Senior Research Fellow at Bristol University's School for Policy Studies, said: "Tragically, control and violence seem to be so prevalent in these relationships that girls are unable to recognise its impact - it is an everyday happening. Many girls found it very difficult to see that their partner's behaviour is abusive. The government and those working with young people need to recognise that teenage partner violence is an even more profound child welfare issue for disadvantaged young people. This will help professionals assess the possibility of partner violence and challenge young people's beliefs that this abuse is a normal part of teenage relationships."

Among the examples of abuse was a 13-year-old girl who reported being forced into non-consensual sex and a 14-year-old girl who was grateful that she had only been hit in the face once. Few of those who suffered violence reported it to professional social workers who worked with them, believing they wouldn't be interested.

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. The NSPCC is making strides to educate children and young people on recognising abuse through our newly launched Schools Service. This knowledge empowers our youth to take action and get help.

"Only through awareness can we start to reduce abuse which damages so many young lives."

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