Girls suffer boy abuse 'in silence'
Thousands of teenage girls suffer in silence after being sexually abused by teenage boys as they think they should accept it as part of the relationship or do not know how to stop it, the NSPCC has warned.
Adolescents are responsible for around a third of all sex offences committed against children and in three out of four of these cases the victim will know the offender, the children's charity said.
However fewer than 20% of these incidents are revealed by the young person being abused, in contrast to assaults carried out by adults which are usually reported.
The charity warned as many as 280,000 young girls could be affected in the UK at some point if a sample of adolescents questioned was representative of all young females.
It said the risk of a girl being sexually assaulted rises dramatically from early teenage years, with the majority of assaults being committed against those aged 12 to 17.
In an effort to reduce incidents of teenage sexual abuse, the NSPCC is calling for education programmes to promote consenting, respectful relationships and dispel the perception girls are just sex objects, and encourage young people to seek help if they become a victim.
The NSPCC said one 15-year-old girl who rang ChildLine said: "I went out with a friend of my brother's for a while but when I finished with him he raped me. And he threatened to do it again if I told anyone. I just don't feel I can tell my parents about it."
Jon Brown, the NSPCC's head of strategy and development for sexual abuse programme, said: "Many girls are being forced to carry out sexual acts and in some cases are even being raped.
"We're not talking about 'horse play' or teenagers experimenting, this is often serious abuse. But unfortunately many of the girls don't see it that way. They think it's just part of a relationship they have with a boy or may be too embarrassed or frightened to tell anyone about it.
"The boys who do this must learn this behaviour is not acceptable under any circumstances otherwise they will think they have a free rein to continue mistreating girls in this way. And the girls may need counselling or therapy because this kind of abuse can cause both physical and psychological harm."