For this year’s Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, teenagers throughout Torbay are being reminded that they have the right to feel safe and happy in their relationships and that anything else just isn’t ok.
Teenage years can be difficult enough to navigate. Add factors such as film and media content, online gaming and easy access to anything and everything on the internet and perceptions of what makes up a healthy relationship can easily become skewed.
Cllr Julien Parrott, Executive Lead for Adults and Children, said: “It’s important that as a community we take responsibility for educating our young people about what healthy relationships are, how to recognise unhealthy and abusive behaviours and where to find help if they ever need it.
“As a society we have allowed a culture where young people can in many cases freely access online pornography. A culture where young people can now share explicit images of themselves using social media. A culture where apps are used to ‘shop’ for relationships where decisions are based almost entirely on appearance. The level of harm that this can create for our children is significant.
“Growing up is hard enough but with all of these other additional and complicated factors our young people are vulnerable. It’s natural for young people to want to take risks and to explore the world but as adults we must ensure that they are equipped with the confidence and knowledge to help them make their own informed and safe choices and to recognise that they deserve healthy relationships built on consent, trust and respect. The Are You OK website has a new quiz aimed at young people who may want to give their relationships a quick health check http://www.areyouok.co.uk/teenquiz”
Raising awareness of healthy relationships with young people was chosen some time ago by Torbay’s Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Steering Group as the theme for this year’s Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week and it also coincides with a report published this month by the Children’s Society called ‘Old enough to know better’ which indicates that 16 and 17 year olds are a group of young people who are at high risk of being victims of sexual crimes.
Cllr Robert Excell, Executive Lead for Community Safety, said: “During this year’s awareness week, professionals, including school nurses, will be working with young people in many settings across Torbay and are being asked to speak with young people about their relationships and encourage them to seek help if they need it.
“The issue of consent in young people’s relationships is a particularly important message to get across and it is concerning that there are still those who don’t understand what consent means. To find out more about consent check out www.areyouok.co.uk/sexual-violence-and-abuse
“Healthy relationships and consent are relevant to everyone, regardless of their age, and there is never any excuse for anyone to hurt your mind or your body. Nobody, whoever they are, has the right to do something to you, pressure you or make you do something sexual that you don’t want to do. That includes strangers but also people who you know, people in your family or someone you might be in a relationship with.”
Specialist support workers are available locally for young people and adults who have suffered sexual abuse, sexual assault and domestic abuse. Advice, information and details about local and national support can be found online at www.areyouok.co.uk