Then there was abuse online. I’d never heard the word “sket” – teen slang for a slut – before I met these teenagers. Or of online “sket-sites” – pages created on Facebook where a girl’s sexual deeds are posted, and boys invited to add their comments. Sometimes a boy makes the site, sometimes another (perhaps jealous) girl. The idea is to humiliate. And it works. Intimate pictures, intimate details of a teenager’s life, posted for all to see, the girl labelled a “sket” or “ho” – I found this deeply upsetting. Weren’t they shocked too? They shrugged. It’s normal. And I heard that response again and again. Wrong, yes, but normal too. It was said of boys who take photos of girls during sex, of teens learning “sex moves” from porn, of the young man who shares his “girlfriend” with his mates, so they’re not “left out” – something adults might call gang rape. Wrong, but normal.
EDIT: The BBC Radio 4 Programme described above is still available to listen again to here for the next few days.
In Teenage Kicks, Aasmah Mir explores the sexual pressures faced by teens in Britain today. At a time when young people are more exposed than ever to extreme sexual and violent behaviour, we hear about the work being done on the front-line, with kids who are growing up too fast. We hear from teenage boys on why sharing girls together is not just ‘gang rape’, but a way of life. And we’ll find out how gang culture is pervading teens’ ideas of how relationships work. Aasmah looks into the factors that mean sexual violence is on the increase in the early teens. And meets youth workers at the sharp end. How do you teach a 14 year old, who’s used his mobile phone to film a girl performing a sexual act, about the complex nature of ‘consent’? What if his frames of reference come from pornography on mobile phones at school? Teenage Kicks asks those working with youth, and teenagers themselves – what can be done to help young people have healthy relationships?