Useful link: BBC Radio 4 regularly broadcasts Teenage Kicks which looks at youth issues. Go to BBC Radio 4 to check out when it next airs

While researching a BBC Radio 4 documentary for the program Teenage Kicks, producer Lizz Pearson uncovered some very disturbing views held by teenagers regarding what is and is not acceptable behaviour within a relationship.

The program, hosted by Aasmah Mir which went to air recently covered issues including how young people handle being exposed to extreme sexual and violent behaviour. The documentary also included a story from a teenage boy on why sharing girls with his friends was not ‘gang rape’, but a way of life.

The program also tackled difficult issues like – How do you teach a 14 year old boy, who’s used his mobile phone to film a girl performing a sexual act, about the complex nature of ‘consent’?

Ms Pearson discovered that many teenagers suffer abuse and humiliation by their partners, but more alarmingly the majority seem to just shrug it off as normal.

She reported that during her research she heard from a youth project worker who had asked a group of teenage boys about the qualities they looked for in a girlfriend. She was encouraged when a boy said “fairness”. She asked him to explain. “You know,” he said. “She’s like fair if she spends five minutes giving me head, then my friend head, and like … we all get the same time.”

Her brief for the programme was to look at abuse in teenage relationships. A landmark report produced in September 2009 by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPC), entitled Partner exploitation and violence in teenage intimate relationships had already alerted society to the fact that many teenagers, especially girls, are subjected to physical, emotional and sexual violence in their relationships.

New communication technologies such as texting, mobile phones and the internet have added to the level of control and array of abuse that can be committed. Apparently the new ‘it’ word among teenagers is sket (teen talk for slut).

According to Ms Pearson there are online ‘sket-sites’ on Facebook where a girl’s sexual acts are posted, and boys invited to comment. Sometimes a boy makes the site, sometimes another girl.

The idea is to humiliate. And it works. Intimate pictures, intimate details of a teenager’s life, posted for all to see, the girl labelled a ‘sket’ or ‘ho’.

Rather than being horrified by this, many young people accepted it as normal and part of how relationships were conducted.

Her investigations also revealed that many teenagers in the UK today think it is normal for boys to take photos of girls during sex, normal for teens to learn “sex moves” from porn, and normal for teenage boys to shares their “girlfriend” with their mates; so they’re not “left out” (gang rape?).

So why are teenager boys viewing girls in such a sexualised way? How have we arrived at a time and a place where violence in a relationship is so readily accepted and considered normal?

Liz Pearson wrote “There are various theories about why this is happening and some are in the programme. TV, magazines, our whole culture invites us to prize our sexuality, and judge ourselves and others accordingly. Whether it’s front page pictures of a celeb’s wobbly bits, or articles that tell us we must ‘have it all’ – big boobs, great boyfriend, toned, waxed, perfect bod”.

Teenage Kicks airs on BBC Radio 4. To view details of their programming go to Teenage Kicks.

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Soruce: Guardian UK. Teenage Kicks.