Preventing sexual violence through participation from young people in Perth and Kinross

by Hannah Turrell, Young People’s Prevention Worker with the Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre Perth and Kinross (RASAC P&K)

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RASAC P&K is a free and confidential service, providing support, information and advocacy to anyone who identifies as a woman age 12+, and boys 12-18. The service is available to those affected by sexual violence at any time in their lives. Support can take place face to face or via email, telephone or letter. The Centre operates a helpline Monday – Friday and evening calls are directed to Rape Crisis Scotland’s National Helpline. Outreach appointments are available and the Centre facilitates regular groups for survivors.

RASAC Youth Initiative (RYI) is an interactive sexual violence prevention project in Perth and Kinross. Research has shown that young girls feel pressure to live up to the unrealistic expectations of society, with the media regularly normalising unhealthy representations of how both boys and girls should look and behave. Girls experience particular pressure to prioritise looks and are bombarded with messages about how to be “sexy”, have the perfect body shape, and keep your boyfriend.   Boys and young men are immersed in images and messages promoting masculinity as something which is dominant, “macho”, and in control. It is no secret that technology is everywhere nowadays and plays a big part in the lives of young people. Easier access to pornography has resulted in unprecedented numbers of young people being exposed to harmful messages and portrayals of sexuality and relationships.   RYI recognises the societal attitudes and harmful behaviours that these pressures perpetuate and the project is committed to challenging a society where women and girls are objectified for, and by, men. Also, we support government findings that have stated the sexualisation of young people can make them more vulnerable to abuse. RYI wants to challenge this by working with young people, parents and professionals across Perth and Kinross through a range of interactive workshops around sexualisation and sexual violence. Workshops take place in a range of educational and community settings.

Our workshops offer young people a safe platform to explore these issues and generate honest and healthy discussion amongst their peers. The workshops are designed to be engaging, challenging and to help make an impact. This assists in delivering important messages to young people. They also allow young people to discuss their opinions and explore where they might have come from. By giving and explaining facts easily, we can empower young people to have a voice. We can also encourage them to take into consideration, not only themselves, but others while becoming more active within their communities. By supporting self-expression, we are making it easier for young people to explore who they are both on and off line. The workshops also provide full support information and young people are given a range of contact details for agencies that can offer support, advice and information.   RYI are committed to effective prevention work as well as giving young survivors access to appropriate, specialist and needs led support.

For further information about RASAC P&K or RASAC Youth Initiative please see www.rasacpk.org.uk or telephone the Centre on 01738 626290.

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