A third of girls aged 13 to 17 have been victims of some form of sexual violence from a partner, a new survey has revealed
The results are based on research by the charity NSPCC and the University of Bristol involving 1,353 teenagers. To stem the tide of abuse, the Government has now launched an unprecedented advertising campaign. Experts fear that some do not even realise they are victims of a crime and others are too terrified or embarrassed to speak out.
The rising sexual influence on television, films and the internet is being blamed for the alarming increase in assault cases, the Daily Mail reported. Ministers believe some young people define sexual consent too loosely. Research has shown some boys think girls must have sex with them if they spend enough money on them.
And campaigners say teenage girls often accept abuse in a relationship because they do not realise it is wrong or know how to stop it. It is thought that up to 900,000 young women are victims of sexual crimes that are likely to leave them scarred for life.
Further research found the highest proportion of sexual abuse is perpetrated by under-18s. Officials discovered that while most teenagers know rape is wrong, many do not realise that sex without consent is always a crime.
The advertisement - to be broadcast on TV, in cinemas and online - urges young people to rethink their view of what constitutes rape. It will be screened to viewers of TV programmes popular with teenagers such as Skins and Hollyoaks.
Both dramas have featured plots involving troubled adolescent relationships, violence and sexuality. The advert shows an unwilling teenage girl being forced into sex by a boy at a party, superimposed with the words: 'If you could see yourself, would you see rape?' Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
"This hard-hitting campaign shows that rape is not just about violent attacks by strangers. We want to bring this issue out into the open and get young people talking about the importance of consent."
"The campaign will give teenagers the facts and support they need to recognise abuse and form healthy relationships," he noted. Jon Brown, of the NSPCC, added: "This campaign is highlighting a hugely important issue for teenagers, particularly girls who are raped or forced to carry out other sexual acts. "Many young people misguidedly accept this as part of a relationship and do nothing about it. We have to change that view because this is sexual abuse and should not be tolerated," he said.