Depressing statistics

Reported here. 25% of the 14 year old girl respondants reported being forced into sex.

It said there was little research on the needs of teenage victims and perpetrators of domestic violence as under-18s were excluded from the government definition of domestic violence.

Two thoughts:

1. I’d previously wondered why some preferred to use the term ‘intimate partner abuse’ or some such, rather than ‘domestic violence’. In this instance, I think I can see why: ‘domestic violence’, perhaps, serves to conceal these cases of abuse that occur between people who don’t live in circumstances to which the term ‘domestic’ applies (due to being too young to cohabit, etc).

2. This proposal seems like a good idea:

The Department for Children, Schools and Families announced in October that sex and relationship education – including “how to develop mutually respectful personal relationships” to be taught in secondary schools – would become a compulsory part of the school curriculum

4 thoughts on “Depressing statistics

  1. While I think we should take advantage of any wake-up call to wake up and do something about intimate partner violence, I’m very suspicious of its methods. These data were collected in an online survey hosted on the website of UK teen girls’ magazine Bliss. Beyond the well-known surveying problems of online quizzes, there’s the extreme audience-selectivity of this particular website. I visited it breifly and now my retinas are sore. This is not a page that I’d expect to be visited by a random swath of British teen girls (not to speak of teen girls worldwide).

    Add to that the fact that the questionaire doesn’t seem to be published anywhere online. And the reporting suggests that the questions were really weird. For example? They report that “Nearly 50% of all age groups surveyed said they knew someone who had had their mobile phones and emails checked or had been told not to go somewhere” (my emphasis).

    First of all, just about everyone I know has been told not to go somewhere, sometime in their lives, by someone. The reporting suggests — but does not explicitly state — that the question was about intimate partners telling young women not to go somewhere. I’ve been warned by intimate partners not to go to dangerous neighborhoods, or to lame parties. Would that count?

    And what’s with the bizzare disjunction? Was the survey question really phrased disjunctively? If so… why?

    Bottom line, I think this is a case where we are tempted to suspend our epistemic reasons to disbelieve the survey results, and attend to practical reasons to believe. But we don’t really need to do that. And we can probably best serve at-risk girls by gathering and disseminating more accurate data about the risks they face.

  2. Hi duckrabbit,
    Yes, thanks for pointing out the problem about selective responses to the survey (and I’ve edited the blog to represent that problem, which I didn’t properly acknowledge in the first writing!).

    Yup, I agree with you that the question about being told where to go etc is a strange one (hence lack of mention).

    And I definitely agree with you that we should be critical of statistics like this (I have given my students stats (about various dimensions of gender inequality) that they find initially surprising, but encourage them be critical about what the stats entitle us to conclude.

    But I suppose my main concern with this was that a) there’s a problem of violence against young girls (whatever the extent of that, and I agree we shouldn’t take the survey results at face value), and b) the language typically used to talk about this kind of problem (‘domestic violence’) doesn’t help in uncovering it (and perhaps hinders).
    (Maybe this isn’t so interesting to others, but I hadn’t previously fully appreciated why some object to the term ‘domestic violence’!)

    Thanks for elucidating some of the worries that attend to the survey though!

  3. Hi factfinder,
    as duckrabbit notes, we’ve only got the wording of the article on this (the online survey doesn’t seem to be available any longer), so can’t be sure. frustrating!

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