Teenage boys think there is nothing wrong with using alcohol and other tactics to pressure girls into having sex, a new study has found.
Researchers from Sheffield University presented 14 to 16-year-old boys and girls with different scenarios.
In a situation where a girl who was reluctant to have sex with her boyfriend, one boy suggested he could rape her if she continued to resist.
“It became clear that the participants were quite serious – seeming to try to differentiate between ‘just a bit of pressure’ and ‘proper rape’,” the researchers said.
The academics also interviewed girls, but found their responses to be more “sympathetic”.
“There were no instances where young females used violent or conquest-type language – yet this littered the male responses,” they said.
“This was particularly evident with the alarming manner in which rape was mentioned in two focus groups (with no evidence of disapproval from the other group participants) and also where young men discussed pressurising girls into sex.”
Some of the boys said that “using tactics like getting a girl drunk were acceptable”.
They recommended that boys need to be involved in “clear discussion about issues of consent and the withdrawal of consent within sexual encounters”.
The findings will bolster arguments against watering down the age of consent, which some view as a draconian measure that criminalises young people.
But the Home Office has said that adolescents under 18 commit a third of all sex offences, with many of their victims aged 16 or under.
Earlier this year, the Scottish Law Commission and the Children’s Commissioner in Scotland proposed that sex between 13 to 15-year-olds should not be an offence under the age of consent law.
MSPs rejected the suggestion, but are now considering whether or not the law should be watered down so that some sexual activity between 13 to 15-year-olds is permitted.
The Christian Institute warns that undermining the age of consent would strip young people of the important protections the law provides.