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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Keep your Jesus off my Penis, and keep your Penis off anyone who doesn't want it.

ReSISTERance blog shares details of research which shows the extent of unwanted teenage sexual experiences.

Her information, taken from the NSPCC site, details that, amongst other things:

  • "Nearly half (45%) of teenage girls in an NSPCC/Sugar magazine survey have had their bottom or breasts groped against their wishes.
  • Fifty-six per cent* of unwanted early sexual experiences occurred for the first time when girls were aged under 14.
  • 51% of unwanted sexual experiences happened more than once and left the girls feeling dirty (47%), ashamed/guilty (39%), worried/insecure (36%), angry (34%) powerless (30%) and frightened (27%).

Chris Cloke, NSPCC head of child protection awareness said: "Sugar readers are revealing early sexual experiences that disregard the need for consent, with young girls threatened or bribed into submitting before they are emotionally or physically ready."

    Of those girls who had been pushed into doing something they didn't want:
  • nearly half (44%) had been made to feel guilty for initially saying 'no'
  • over a quarter (29%) cited simply being told by the person pushing them that it was the right thing to do
  • 1 in eight were given drink or drugs
  • 1 in nine were concerned that rumours would be spread about them
  • 1 in ten were threatened physically
  • 1 in ten were actually hurt physically
  • 1 in ten were bribed with presents or money

In all, 43% of girls questioned said the person responsible for the unwanted experience was a boy they knew or were friends with; one in three cited a boyfriend around their age. Fourteen per cent held a family member or family friend responsible, 13% 'a group of lads', 10% a boyfriend more than five years older than them, and 4% a teacher

A large majority (91%) of the NSPCC/Sugar survey respondents judged it 'never acceptable' for someone to push a girl into a sexual experience against her wishes. Over half (55%+) still believed that their own unwanted early sexual experiences had been at least partly their fault.

Girls' perception of what is sexual abuse varied depending on the age of the perpetrator. Nine out of ten (88%) girls labelled being pushed into a sexual experience against their wishes by an adult over 18 as 'sexual abuse'. Fifty-three per cent described the same experience at the hands of someone their own age as 'pressure sex'.

The NSPCC and Sugar have joined forces to encourage young people to speak out about any concerns they have about sex. Readers can get help and support from the July issue of the magazine and by visiting a new NSPCC website which provides a confidential and anonymous space to learn what sex abuse is and how to stop it. They can also call the NSPCC's freephone 24/7 ChildLine service on 0800 1111.

One of the hardest things for me, about studying this information, was that I was not in the least surprised. The statistics, the ages, the percentages, the details were all frighteningly predictable and very reminiscent of my own teenage years. And those of so, so many girls I knew.

The NSPCC website which is referred to, Don't Hide It Any More, is, unfortunately, predictably skewed in the wrong direction.

While they do provide information to children about what sexual abuse is, and how it can manifest itself, this is limited and does not appear to mention what is abundantly clear from the statistics above: i.e. that the boys in their school can abuse them sexually and force them into sexual activity they do not want. The NSPCC site focuses almost exclusively on adults as perpetrators.

Of course, adults make up a huge percentage of sexual abusers, but denying that teenage boys and young adults are committing these crimes, and maybe believing it is ok to do so, is not okay.

In addition, on the site, all of the impetus for stopping the abuse is on the child, usually the girl, being abused. She must tell someone, and they do suggest possible outlets.

What is not approached at all is that the person who can and should actually stop the abuse is the abuser. We cannot put the responsibility for stopping sexual abuse on the girls being abused. This is impossible, dangerous and puts a false sense of control in the hands of the girl who invariably has virtually no control over this situation. This leads to much more guilt on her part, regarding how she 'should have' been able to stop it happening.

The fact is she couldn't. Had she been able to, she would have. There are a multitude of reasons why she can't make him stop. It is him who has control over abusing her and, who has control of stopping the abuse. We must stop convincing girls that it would never have happened if only she hadn't (worn that skirt, smiled at him, taken the food, been lonely, this list can go on and on).

How can we stop childhood sexual abuse? Well, the abusers need to stop abusing children. Ok?

On a lighter note, thank the Goddess, this Not At All Safe For Work link brought a shocked smirk to my face! Keep your Jesus off my Penis

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