Care vs Control: healthy relationships

I am the leader of the 4th Grays Rangers– who are the Senior Section (14-25) of the Girlguiding movement. This is a voluntary position which I have taken because I was a Guide when I was young and got so much out of it, but also because I want to help support young women in what is a formative and potentially very difficult period of their lives.

GD00099355_00001_1Since I joined in September I have been very impressed and pleasantly surprised at the level of research they do into what it means to be a young female in this day and age and the issues the girls face. There is also a very outward facing aspect of the Guides, from campaigning and fundraising to peer education on the issues they face. There is a programme for older girls called ‘Me in Mind’ which focuses on mental and emotional health. Vital for these young women.

One of their recently publications is Care vs Control, (pdf), written in conjunction with Women’s Aid.

When I first started to read this I was waiting for a meeting to start and I had to stop reading as I was getting upset at their findings.

Just in the executive summary they take statistics from their Girlguiding 2012 Girls’ Attitudes Survey, which is what prompted them to undertake this research.

two fifths of girls believe it is acceptable for a partner to make you tell them where you are all the time.

21% say it is acceptable for a partner to shout at you and call you names

One in five say it is okay for a partner to tell you what you can and can’t wear

Heartbreaking. Where do they get these views from? All of these now fit into the government’s definition of domestic abuse – controlling behaviour. I personally would argue it is the media which shows them this is acceptable. However, the girls themselves are not sure where this comes from – media was mentioned, as was social networking sites and also sex education in school does not cover this aspect of relationships.

95% think that threatening a girl with violence for spending too much time with her friends was wrong

which means that 5% of girls think that is ok.

Of course if women think this at a young age, they will carry that knowledge and set of beliefs through to adulthood.

Girlguiding provides peer educators who talk on healthy relationships and I will be inviting them to my Rangers group.

I think it is a shame that guiding has such a geeky, sad reputation as I think it really does provide amazing opportunities for young women, as well as a place to hang out. I did all sorts of cool things, as well as going to Switzerland with the Guides.

My Rangers group is really new and only has three members at the moment, which makes it harder to arrange cool activities. But I hope to grow it and to reach out to those who might not be keen to take part. Guiding is not expensive at all and there are grants and support available to those who are struggling financially.

Can you tell this is a subject I am passionate about? It is. And I want to reach out to more young women in Thurrock. If you can help me with this then please get in touch.

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