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Sexist violence among adolescents: What are we doing wrong as a society?

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Last Sunday, April 24, we woke up to some shocking news: the arrest of a 13-year-old teenager, accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in Tarragona. Acts of sexist violence between adolescents and young people -in some cases, even resulting in death- have recently been appearing in the media, forcing us to ask ourselves many questions that are difficult to answer.

Can we ensure that sexist violence is a practice that has increased among our adolescents? What are we doing wrong, as a society, for a young person to commit such a heinous act?

El Diari has required the help of Chus Rodríguez, a member of the working group on sexist violence of the Col·legi Oficial de Psicologia de Catalunya, to try to shed light on some of these shadows. This expert in sexist violence begins by acknowledging that more cases are detected among adolescents, although she points out that “this happens because adolescents are closer to asking for help in this type of situation. It is not that there is more volume of cases, but that the adolescents give it a name, which allows this type of violence between adolescents to be more identified. Before there were also many cases of psychological or sexual violence, but they remained in an area in which they were not given a name. Now that does not happen, and the young women ask for help ».

To contextualize the problem, this psychologist recalls that “we live in a patriarchal society, which is the basis of sexist violence, where inequality between men and women is patent. In addition, this patriarchal society has managed to coexist with all economic, social, political models, etc… (communism, capitalism, etc…). And it has done so by transforming and adapting to changes in order to endure. For example, now much of this violence is channeled through the Internet, a network where young people have a strong presence. She thinks that the average age of children’s first contact with Internet pornography is 10 and a half years. That means that the first contact these children will have in their lives with sexuality will be through pornography.

The new technologies

The State Attorney General’s Office warned in its 2019 report of how new technologies, which have placed in the hands of the aggressors of victims of gender-based violence “very powerful mechanisms of manipulation, humiliation and control, can generate domination and unequal relations between men and women, capable of producing extraordinarily serious harmful effects”.

On this aspect, Rodríguez points out that «new technologies allow us to get where we want. There are no limits, both for the good and for the bad, and the use will depend on each one. And in a vital stage such as adolescence, it is a factor that can facilitate a situation of sexist violence. Adolescence is a time of discovery and danger does not look the same as when you are an adult. That is why the excessive consumption of according to which web pages can be an important factor in the development of according to what type of behavior».

Doing self-criticism can be important to try to improve things that we could be doing wrong as a society. For this psychologist “the problem is that there are two opposing forces in society. One part is clear that they have to fight to educate in equality, but there is another that does not believe in that and does not see the need for it to be so, also in the midst of a political environment that legitimizes this, as some political parties do. We may be doing some things wrong, but not 100% of society.”

On whether there is a specific age at which we have to start educating our children in values ​​such as gender equality or respect for the other sex, Chus Rodríguez believes that “we have not yet assimilated that it is not about educating but about a model of society, and this means that from the moment your child is born you have to educate him in these values. Is it true that we do not consider at what age we have to teach our son how to eat healthily? Well, it’s the same with this. It is a model of society issue, since he was born ».

get the teen back

One of the objectives that we must have as a society is to recover adolescents who engage in practices of sexist violence so that they abandon this path, as may be the latest case in Tarragona. In this sense, Rodríguez comments that “without going into the case of Tarragona specifically, because I do not know it in depth, first we must know what has happened to this adolescent so that he has done what he has done. Because it will depend on how we will have to act so that he does not do it again and that he has a healthy life and that this fact does not end up marking him. For example, if a neurological factor is more important in a case like the one in Tarragona, the approach will be more clinical, psychiatric or psychological. On the other hand, if environmental or family factors weigh more, with an emotional deficiency, the approach will be different. We have to do a good analysis of the case and see what has happened, so we can set an effective work plan.

different violences

More than 16 percent of Spanish adolescents have been insulted or ridiculed by their partner, have suffered abusive control, have been isolated from their friends or pressured to carry out sexual activities that they did not want to practice. They are the most common forms of gender violence that affect minors.

The study ‘Minors and Gender Violence’ by the Government Delegation against Gender Violence, with interviews with 10,465 boys between the ages of 14 and 18, takes a picture of the violence suffered by adolescents in their romantic relationships. 16.9% of girls acknowledge that their partner has insulted or ridiculed them; 16% indicate that they have controlled her until deciding for her down to the smallest detail; 14.7% say that it has isolated them from their friends; 13.6% were controlled via mobile and 10.9% felt pressured to engage in sexual activities that they did not want to engage in.

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