Only three per cent of secondary school children in Northamptonshire would tell the police if they were facing abuse within an intimate relationship, a new survey has revealed.
Research has been carried out by the Institute for Public Safety, Crime and Justice and the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner on the behaviour of almost 3,000 10 to 18-year-olds in the county.
Survey results revealed a worrying trend in the reluctance of young people to speak with authority figures when facing abuse within intimate relationships.
Of the children surveyed, only five per cent would tell a member of school staff if they were facing abuse, three per cent the police and two per cent a youth worker.
The most popular form of support for young people is to tell their friends (40 per cent), while only a quarter of people would reach out to parents (24 per cent).
The consultation also revealed 42 per cent of young people have been subjected to a partner constantly checking up on them, while over half of those questioned (54 per cent) said that they faced jealousy issues from their boyfriend or girlfriend when spending time with friends.
A third of young people have been made fun of by a boyfriend or girlfriend in front of other people in a way that made them feel uncomfortable and 21 per cent of 16-18 year-olds (14 per cent of 10-18 year-olds) have been pressured in to doing something they didn’t want to by a partner.
One in 20 teenagers have been physically forced into doing something they didn’t want to do.
In response to the findings, Adam Simmonds, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire, has called on the government to introduce compulsory Sex and Relationships education to the national curriculum and update its guidance - which was last published 16 years ago in 2000.
Adam Simmonds, Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “What we are seeing in this research is a changing of the landscape in terms of the pressures that young people are having to deal with as they grow up and the fact that many are suffering forms of mental – and at times physical –abuse while in relationships.
“We must therefore educate children to identify these types of coercive and controlling behaviours, to teach children what behaviours are not acceptable and the negative impact they can have, and strengthen the support and advice available for those who are victims of emotional abuse.”
Laura Knight, Director of the Institute for Public Safety, Crime and Justice, who produced the consultation report, said the results showed government, law enforcement and support agencies needed to listen to the experiences of young people.
She said: “Young people are simply not reporting crimes of this nature, and therefore efforts need to be made to ensure there is help available for people suffering from controlling behaviours in intimate relationships, and that young people know where to find support.
“Police forces across England and Wales are also not ready to deal with an influx of these crimes, so all agencies
need to come together to provide a platform for young people who are suffering significant levels of abuse in relationships that are being entered in to at younger and younger ages.”
The Institute for Public Safety, Crime and Justice and Northants PCC surveyed 2,712 students across 19 mainstream schools, including four Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Special Educational Needs and MentalHealth (SENMH) schools in the county to gather the information.