Since 2010, the home office has been running two national campaigns, across Wales and England, targeted at 13 – 18 year old boys and girls.
The Teenage Relationship Abuse campaign and the Teenage Rape Prevention campaign aim to help teenagers re-think their views of violence, abuse, controlling behaviour and what ‘consent’ means within a relationship, helping to prevent young people become victims or perpetrators of any kind of abuse. Both campaigns used TV adverts depicting young people in various abusive situations and directed viewers to www.thisisabuse.direct.gov.uk for additional resources and advice.
The campaigns proved to be successful and the This is Abuse website has had over 1 million visits since 2010 and the comments and feedback that teenagers have written on the message boards indicate that the campaigns are indeed helping to change attitudes and behaviours. Because of the success of the two campaigns, the home office has made the decision to combine them under the title of ‘This is Abuse’ campaign.
The campaign will run from December 2013 until March 2014 and will again employ the use of TV adverts, as well as online, social media and radio activity across channels that are focused on the target audience. The primary audience for the campaign will still be all young people aged 13 – 18, as the issue facing them is not bound by certain groups or boundaries, with the secondary audience being parents and carers who are in a position to support young people who might need help.
While the previous campaigns were successful, it is essential to evolve them in some way to make them more suitable for 2013/2014. As part of this, the home office have developed a discussion guide to outline the common misconceptions teenagers have about abuse and how to use the campaign materials to engage with teenagers on these issues. Another important point in the new campaign is to more effectively reach boys. A specific page on the website has been developed for boys, called ‘In the Know’, where boys can find out more information about the topic without feeling labelled as an ‘abuser’.
The ‘This is Abuse’ website is a great resource for teenagers who are experiencing physical or sexual abuse, or for teenagers who think a friend might be risk. The website has a comprehensive list of help lines and other abuse websites where teenagers can seek help and support, along with information addressing frequently asked questions, how to spot the signs, what the law says and clearly defined meanings of relevant terms such as ‘consent’ or ‘sexual assault’. There are also interactive games and polls where teenagers can learn more and express their own opinion.
This is a great step in the work towards combating domestic violence and abuse. By educating young people on what constitutes abuse, whether they have experienced it or not, will help them to recognise signs in others or in the future when they may also find themselves at risk.