Wednesday, September 02, 2009

UK Study Found 1 in 3 Girls 1 in 17 Boys Sexually Abused

From the BBC:


Nearly 90% of 1,400 girls aged 13 to 17 had been in intimate relationships, the NSPCC and University of Bristol found. Of these, one in six said they had been pressured into sexual intercourse and one in 16 said they had been raped. [...]

One in three of the teenage girls questioned in England, Scotland and Wales said their boyfriends had tried to pressure them into unwanted sexual activity by using physical force or by bullying them.

The NSPCC said the unwanted sexual activity ranged from kissing to intercourse.
A quarter of the girls interviewed for the survey had suffered physical violence, including being slapped, punched or beaten.

This gives a snapshot of the scope of the behavior too many adults try to minimize or excuse by talking about how girls need to get a backbone.

Teaching girls about what they can do when they are being bullied to escape abuse is teaching girls self-defense it is not prevention education. Self-defense is the option of last resort because even the best self-defense strategy will fail at times.

Girls have been murdered by abusive boyfriends so compliance in certain situations may be the best self-protective action. To call these girls spineless is to fail to understand the risk these girls face once bullying has begun. Girls who don't escape pressure or force, sexual or otherwise, don't deserve to be talked about as if they did something wrong.

Once the pressure or force is gone it is easy to look back and see opportunities to escape, but this is not an accurate assessment of what it was like for the person being pressured or forced at that moment.

The cause of the actions behind these statistics related to the abuse of girls is not about the behavior of girls. The core problem recorded by these statistics is the abusive behavior of boys and only by changing their behavior so they no longer view pressuring or forcing a girl as acceptable behavior will there be a significant reduction in sexual bullying of girls.

Forcible rape isn't a separate behavior as some people want to view it but is a more direct, less deniable example of sexual bullying.

According to the Guardian article on this research, girls with older boyfriends were more likely to be abused. This makes sense in 2 ways. The first is that the boy may expect the girl to act as if she were his age. The second is that boys who want to control their girlfriends may pick younger girls who they believe will be easier to control than girls their own age.
For boys, having a violent group of friends actually made it more likely that they would become a victim, or be a perpetrator of violence, in a relationship.

This finding is important because it is something adults have a greater chance of observing and then addressing. It also shows that being with violent friends is not protection from victimization.

In comparison to the rate of 1 in 3 for girls only 1 in 17 boys reported being pressured or forced into sexual activity. Again the problem is with those doing the pressuring and/or forcing.

Some people who don't get this truth when the person who isn't willing is a girl will get this truth when the unwilling teen is a boy. For these people sexual abuse is tolerable but only when the victim is a girl. That gendered attitude about sexual bullying, I believe, is part of the reason why the sexual abuse numbers are so different for boys and girls.

When girls who are pressured sexually are taught directly or indirectly that the contact or activity which follows is not the responsibility of the person applying pressure some girls will take this lesson to heart when they want sexual activity with a boy who doesn't want the same.

This behavior of pressuring someone else should never be viewed as more acceptable than physical force. Agreement under pressure is not consent, only compliance. If so many adults fail to understand this how can we expect teens to understand it?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:03 AM   0 comments links to this post

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