Young girls are being physically abused and pressured into sex by their boyfriends, according to new research.
Nearly nine in ten girls aged 13 to 17 have been involved in an “intimate” relationship, according to a survey of 1,353 young people carried out by the NSPCC and Bristol University.
Of those girls, one in six reported being pressured into having sex, while one in 16 said they had been raped.
A quarter of the girls had suffered physical violence such as being slapped, punched, or beaten by their boyfriends, the survey found.
One interviewee, Sian, said: “I only went out with him for a week. And then, because I didn’t want to have sex, he just started picking on me and hitting me.”
Girls with older boyfriends were most at risk, with three quarters reporting abuse.
Many kept quiet about the situation because they felt scared or guilty, or feared they would lose their boyfriend.
One of the report’s authors, Professor David Berridge from the University’s School for Policy Studies, said: “The high rate and harmful impact of violence in teenagers’ intimate relationships, especially for girls, is appalling.
“It was shocking to find that exploitation and violence in relationships starts so young.”
NSPCC Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Diana Sutton, said: “Boys and girls are under immense peer pressure to behave in certain ways and this can lead to disrespectful and violent relationships, with girls often bearing the brunt.”
Earlier this year the Scottish Government pulled back on plans to water down the age of consent law after campaigners and children’s groups warned that youngsters would be left vulnerable to abuse.
According to Home Office research, adolescents commit up to a third of all sex offences with many children among the victims.
Last month it emerged that more than a third of teenagers have received indecent sexual images by text message or email, many of which are from other teenagers.
In July figures revealed that on average 100 children and teenagers are charged with rape in Scotland each year.