February 28, 2021

This is how gender-based violence among young people has decreased in seven years


Less and less adolescent girls claim to be victims of gender violence in their partners and fewer adolescent boys declare to exercise it. It is one of the main conclusions reached by the study The situation of violence against women in adolescence in Spain, commissioned by the Government Delegation against Gender Violence and presented this Friday. The report, drawn up with a sample of 13,267 young people between the ages of 14 and 20 from almost all of Spain, reveals that the incidence is still high, but if this edition is compared with the previous two, from 2013 and 2010, it is surprising that many indicators have diminished.

Questions such as whether your partner has made you feel afraid, ridiculed or insulted you, controlled you “down to the last detail” or hit you have been asked of adolescents in all three reports. While from 2010 to 2013 there was a generalized escalation “which was attributed to the use of technologies”, explained the study director María José Díaz Aguado, now there has been a “significant decrease” in the percentages of girls who acknowledged having lived several of these situations. For example, isolation from friends (from 21.4% to 15.1%) or control, selected by 16.5% of adolescents compared to 27.8% seven years ago. Other indicators, such as the use of physical violence, has remained practically unchanged at 3%.

According to the conclusions of the report, the falls occurred in the eight situations that had registered increases in 2013, and also in three related to the use of technologies, which for Díaz Aguado, director of the University’s Preventive Psychology Unit Complutense de Madrid, implies “that we can and must educate them to use them well.” Both the control through the mobile phone, and the use of passwords for this purpose or to impersonate the young woman are behaviors that have decreased since 2013: for example, the first one has gone from suffering it almost one in four young people to 15% .

In fact, it is control or psychological violence that has also been significantly reduced if we compare the data with those of a decade ago. “It is not by chance that there are things that have improved, it is the explicit result” of the impulses in society and in education, Díaz Aguado has highlighted, who nevertheless has warned of the high prevalence and emerging risks. The decrease in several of these situations also coincides with an increase in the number of students who acknowledge working in schools with the problem of gender violence within their partner or ex-partner: almost half, 47.8%, stated in 2020, compared to 39% in 2013. Something that “significantly reduces the risk of exercising or suffering it,” the study indicates.

“Online risk behaviors” grow

What has increased considerably is the number of young people who declare that they have felt forced into sexual activities in which they did not want to participate. The percentage is higher in 2020, when up to 10.4% of girls affirm it, than in 2013 (5.9%). These data, however, the study warns, have more difficulties of interpretation because seven years ago there was a change in the word used in the surveys. Then it was used “forced”, while now it is used “pressured” with the aim of “adapting the evaluation of sexual violence to the change produced in society”.

In general, and outside the scope of the partner or ex-partner, up to 14.1% of young people acknowledge having suffered this pressure, in almost all cases (97.4%) from a man. The answers about the age at which they received these pressures reflect that some were produced from a very young age: 2.5% with less than six years; 5.3% between 6-9 years; 11.6% between 9-12; 65.8% between 13-15; 41.5% between 16-18; and 6.3% between 18 and 20 years.

Also what the report calls “online risk behaviors” outside of the couple have escalated in recent years. This block of questions, which was introduced in 2013, points to a very significant increase in both girls and boys in most of the items. The only one that decreases is using a webcam with a stranger, the study points out. Specifically, the majority are behaviors that involve disclosure of information or details about personal life: the proportion of those who have given their first and last names has increased from 13.7% to more than half (55%), and one in four provided their home address in 2020, compared to 9.3% seven years ago.

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