Summary and policy implications
This report sets out the attitudes of secondary school age young people to different forms of violence against women. It also compares the attitudes of young people with those of adults. The findings indicate that it might be helpful for future policies and strategies to:
Focus on educating and influencing the views of young people
Young people were generally less likely than adults to consider the various behaviours described as very seriously wrong or harmful, with the exception of specific kinds of commercial sexual exploitation, where young people's views were consistent with those of adults.
These differences may in part be due to the fact that the young people surveyed were secondary school age and as such are still forming their social identities, and are less likely to have had personal experience of relationships, or the types of scenarios described. However it also indicates that, in line with the early intervention agenda, more may need to be done to educate and inform young people about violence against women and acceptable behaviour in relationships.
Target messages at boys
Differences were apparent by gender, with boys being less likely than girls to class behaviours as very seriously wrong, and in some cases less likely to cause a great deal of harm. Girls were also less likely than boys to hold stereotypical views on gender roles. Such gender differences should be taken into account when planning early intervention strategies and targeting information in a way that is accessible to boys.
Aim to transform views around gender stereotypes, as these attitudes appear to be strongly linked to attitudes towards violence against women
Stereotypical views on gender roles exist amongst young people in Scotland. And those who held stereotypical gender views were less likely to view a range of behaviours as very seriously wrong or likely to cause a great deal of harm. Therefore, strategies aimed at reducing violence against women should also focus on transforming gender stereotypes and tackling discriminatory or stereotyping attitudes, cultures and behaviours.
Tackle newer forms of violence against women, such as posting naked photos of an ex-girlfriend online
Both young people and adults were extremely concerned about a newer form of violence against women, namely posting naked photos of an ex-girlfriend online, and there was strong support for this practice to be made illegal. New strategies may need to be developed to deal with this new form of violence against women.
Monitor the attitudes of both adults and young people to violence against women as a way of evaluating the success of any strategies to influence opinions
Findings from the 2014 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey and the 2014 Young People in Scotland survey form a useful baseline for measuring the attitudes of both adults and young people to violence against women. In order to help evaluate the success of any policy interventions in this area, it would be useful to regularly repeat these surveys to identify any change in attitudes over time.