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Young people’s attitudes

Young people’s attitudes to violence, sex and relationships

Violence in intimate partner relationships is a big problem among Australian teenagers.

The Young People's Attitudes to Domestic, Family & Teen Dating Violence report outlined that:

‘Young women (aged 18 – 25) are twice as likely to experience physical or sexual violence than older women, with some estimating it could be up to 4 times more likely for young women aged 14 – 19.

‘Young people experience violence in their own relationships. Approximately one third of adolescents experience some type of violence from an intimate partner, with an estimated 12% experiencing physical violence.’

‘Young people who live with family violence often experience a “double-labelling”: that is, they are not only seen as the children of violent fathers – a stigma in itself – they are also targeted by services as potential offenders and sometimes potential victims.’

What young people think about violence towards women

Independent research commissioned by Our Watch found:

  • More than 1 in 4 young people aged 12 to 24 years hold attitudes that put them at risk of perpetrating, excusing or tolerating violence against women.
  • 1 in 3 do not think that exerting control over someone else is a form of violence.
  • 1 in 4 do not think it’s serious when guys insult or verbally harass girls in the street.
  • 1 in 4 think it’s pretty normal for guys to pressure girls into sex.
  • 1 in 4 do not think it’s serious if a guy, who’s normally gentle, sometimes slaps his girlfriend when he’s drunk and they’re arguing.
  • More than one quarter of young people think it’s important for men to be tough and strong.
  • 16 per cent of young people think that women should know their place.

It is with these findings - about the vulnerability and beliefs of young people - that your role is crucial. This may be in your work with young people in care, or those young people you work with who are still living at home. Conversations and planning about intimate relationships can often be overlooked in child protection work, despite it being central to a young person’s wellbeing and how their future is shaped. You can be the fork in the road about how they experience and perceive relationships into adulthood - through respectful and deep listening, education and empathy.

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