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The Home Office has launched a new £2 million TV, radio, internet and poster campaign in response to NSPCC research indicating that a quarter of girls aged 13 to 17 have experienced physical violence from a boyfriend and a third have been pressured into unwanted sexual acts. The media coverage suggests that the campaign is taking the sensible approach of not only trying to equip girls with the knowledge and confidence to seek help, but also of addressing boys’ behaviour and trying to tackle the sexist attitudes that lead to abuse:

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said it was essential to change attitudes in order to stop abuse against females.

He said: “We want to see young people in safe and happy relationships and this means tackling attitudes towards abuse at an early age, before patterns of violence can occur.

“We hope this campaign will help teenagers to recognise the signs of abuse and equip them with the knowledge and confidence to seek help, as well as understanding the consequences of being abusive or controlling in a relationship.”

One of the key campaign videos (see here) is directed by This Is England director Shane Meadows, who wanted to ‘highlight the problem of emotional violence, including verbal insults and controlling behaviour such as monitoring text messages’. I like that it shows the normalcy of domestic violence, particularly in that it portrays the boy as a lad who is capable of reconsidering his actions and changing his ways, not as the stereotypical violent thug. Thoughts?

Video transcript.

– Do you want a bit of fun before your parents get back?

– No, let’s just watch this.

– I’ll tell everyone you’re frigid.

– Well why would you do that?

Phone beeps.

– Well who’s that?

– Nicole.

– Oh, you and your mates!

– What are you doing?!

– That’s your fault that.

– I only just got this.

– [aggressive] Don’t talk to me like that.

– I’m not even allowed friends now, am I?

– I thought I was your mate?

– [crying] You’re really hurting me.

– Do you see what you’re making me do?

– All right then, I’ll do it.

Boy banging on perspex shouts ‘Stop!’

– Well why would I want to do it with you now? Look at you, you’re pathetic.