The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has published a report which contains figures that really should get us sitting up, taking note and taking action.
The following statistics are for 13-17 year old girls in the UK
- 1 out of 16 has been raped
- 1 out of 6 has been pressurised into sexual intercourse
- 1 out of 4 has been physically assaulted within a relationship
- 9 out of 10 have been intimate in relationships
As the father of a six year old girl I find this troubling. It is only going to be a few years before my little girl is going to be feeling the peer pressure to be in a physical relationship with a boy. It was tough when I was at school but I believe the intensity of sex and dating whilst negotiating adolesence has been cranked up a few notches in the last 10-15 years. I am scared to send her to secondary school but I know that this is a minefield Anya must tackle as she grows up into a young woman.
However, and I hope my peers who are also parents are listening to this, it is not something she needs to tackle unequipped. Rada and I need to be talking with Anya honestly about the situations she will find herself in in the coming years. She is six years old and innocent and naive. I need to teach her to maintain her innocence but, at the right time, wise up and lose the naivity.
I was on the bus on the way home last Thursday evening and I passed crowd after crowd of girls dressed up like prostitutes. They had received their GCSE results, were off for a night in town and were dressed to sexualise as much of the mid-pubescent bodies as possible. I am telling you my heart broke and then I thought of all the parents who had allowed (passively or actively) their daughters to leave the house looking like giving themselves for sex was the number one aim of the evening.
Parents – we have the responsibility to educate our children. They need to know what their worth is and they need to know exactly what peer culture they will confront in the next few years. It will be too late to hope they come and talk to you once they start feeling the pressure…