London, Sep 1 (ANI): One in three girls in their teens has been a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a boyfriend, while one in four has suffered violence in a relationship, according to an in-depth study.
Conducted by the NSPCC and Bristol University, the survey of 1,353 teenage girls and boys questioned across the UK, found that 90 percent of girls in the age group of 13-17 had been in an intimate relationship.
A similar number of boys had also been in relationships.
The research found that 25 percent of girls had suffered physical violence in some form or the other, including being slapped, punched or beaten by their boyfriends.
For the study, the investigators questioned 91 young people at length.
Among the girls, one in six said that they had been pressured into having sex, and one in 16 claimed that they had been raped.
Other participants said that they had been pressured or forced to kiss or intimately touch their boyfriends.
A small minority of the boys - one in 17 - reported being pressured or forced into sexual activity, and almost one in five suffered physical violence in a relationship.
A large number of girls said that they felt they had to put up with the abuse because they felt scared or guilty, or feared they would lose their boyfriend.
According to the NSPCC, having an older boyfriend placed young girls at a higher risk of abuse, with three-quarters of them saying they had been victims.
Even young women from a family where an adult had been violent towards them were also at greater risk.
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.
"The high rate and harmful impact of violence in teenagers' intimate relationships, especially for girls, is appalling," the Guardian quoted Professor David Berridge, of Bristol University, one of the authors of the report, as saying.
"It was shocking to find that exploitation and violence in relationships starts so young. This is a serious issue that must be given higher priority by policymakers and professionals," he added.
The report reminds schools of the need to raise awareness of relationships where there is harmful, controlling and abusive behaviour.It has also recommended that anti-bullying groups at school should tackle violent relationships and that child protection professionals should consider teenagers who are in intimate relationships, especially girls with older boyfriends.
Diane Sutton, head of policy and public affairs at the NSPCC suggested that parents and schools could perform a vital role in teaching children about loving and safe relationships and what to do if they are suffering from violence or abuse. (ANI)