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Preventing adolescent relationship abuse: new NZFVC Issues Paper

June 01, 2017 at 3:43 PM

*From the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse*

Violence and abuse in teenage relationships is a serious problem in New Zealand but does not receive the same level of attention as violence in adult relationships, according to a New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse Issues Paper released today.

Author Dr Melanie Beres of the University of Otago says "Adolescence is a key time to intervene and support young people to build healthy relationship skills."

The paper, Preventing adolescent relationship abuse and promoting healthy relationships, found:

  • 29% of New Zealand secondary students reported being hit or harmed by another person in the previous year (Youth 2012 study)
  • 20% of female and 9% of male secondary school students reported having experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in the previous year. The majority of incidents were perpetrated by a boyfriend, girlfriend or friend.
  • 21% of women who stayed in women’s refuges in 2015/16 were aged 15-19 years.

Dr Beres said prevention is key to addressing this problem.

"A key part of prevention is transforming the underlying gender norms that shape and enable abuse. For example, boys are taught to be tough, strong and in control. They are taught that they should want sex and it’s their job to initiate and 'get' it."

"There have been numerous examples of this in the media in recent months. We need to provide alternative norms about both masculinity and femininity that value non-aggression and respect in boys while allowing for vulnerability."

"Efforts need to address all levels of society, from national policy and community norms to schools programmes and family awareness."

"Prevention and intervention efforts need to draw on international evidence of what works, but also work closely with local communities.

"Kaupapa Māori approaches to building healthy relationships and addressing adolescent relationship abuse also need to be developed."



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Kaupapa Māori approaches could help address adolescent relationship abuse, Māori TV, 31.05.2017

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NZ students facing unwanted sexual behaviour, Radio NZ, 31.05.2017

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Category: Reports