‘More teen lovers face abuse by partners’

The Child Gauge 2014 found that teenage girls are more at risk than boys when it comes to intimate violence. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

The Child Gauge 2014 found that teenage girls are more at risk than boys when it comes to intimate violence. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Published Nov 25, 2014


Pretoria - Intimate partner abuse is usually associated with adults, but research indicates that there is an increase in adolescents who are facing abuse at the hands of their lovers.

The Child Gauge 2014 released last week found that teenage girls are more at risk than boys to be victims of intimate violence.

According to the report, a study among school-going adolescents in Cape Town found that 49.8 percent of surveyed young men and 52.4 percent of the young women reported that they have been in an abusing relationship either as a victim or perpetrator.

Child Gauge is published by the University of Cape Town’s Children’s Institute annually to monitor the progress towards realising children’s rights.

The report shows that violence in adolescents is gendered. Young men are more likely to be victims or perpetrators of male on male violence that might lead to injury or death. Young women are more likely to be victims of dating and sexual violence from young men.

It says that 41.7 percent of the young women reported to being victims of a violent dating relationship than young men who were at 37.8 percent.

“A school-based survey on intimate partner violence among Cape Town adolescents found that 12 percent of Grade 8 reported experiencing physical violence at the hand of their boyfriends, and 16 percent of boys reported using physical violence towards their girlfriends,” the report states.

Shaheda Omar from the Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children said: “The dating violence is because of the dynamics of power in dating. Young women are sometimes forced into or coerced into intercourse by their partners.”

The report says intimate partner violence includes physical violence, which includes beating and kicking; sexual violence which includes forced intercourse and other forms of coerced sex; and, emotional and psychological violence which includes humiliation and intimidation. The theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children which starts on Tuesday is “Peace begins at home” and this, Omar says, is important in solving the violence.

“Children learn violent behaviour from their most immediate environment whether it is their families, schools, communities or media. Everywhere young people look violence is endorsed. They believe that to be victorious, you have to be violent. Parents need to show there are other ways of disciplining them other than corporal punishment,” Omar said.

She said the violence that adolescents face leads to long term problems in society, for instance young women falling pregnant from being coerced into sex and then dropping out of school. “The violence might lead to low self-esteem in the victims of violence.”

In another survey done in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, conducted on a sample of 1 000 men between 18 and 49 years, 27.6 percent of them said they had raped a woman or a girl and most of those who raped started before the age of 20.

Omar said to stop the violence, urgent intervention had to be done. One of the ways, she said, was to create safe spaces in communities for young people. “If there are safe spaces for youth recreation then young people can channel their aggression in a positive way. Schools also need legislation that will mean a zero percent no tolerance policy on bullying…”

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