Talking tough and feeling safe. Researching young women’s sexual safety: innovations and perspectives Joy Trotter UK Joint Social Work Education Conference with the UK Social Work Research Conference Social Work: People, Place and Politics Homerton College, Cambridge 9th-11th July 2008.
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Talking tough and feeling safe Researching young women’s sexual safety: innovations and perspectives Joy Trotter UK Joint Social Work Education Conference with the UK Social Work Research Conference Social Work: People, Place and Politics Homerton College, Cambridge 9th-11th July 2008
Lavie-Ajayi, M. (2007) • Introduction • adults’ concerns about young people • adults’ concerns about young women’s sexual safety • safe from what? safe from whom? • ‘reasons to have sex’ • adults’ lack of concern? • findings from the 2000 British Crime Survey • adults’ lack of knowledge? • adults’ lack of awareness? • young gay women's sexual safety • Researching young women’s sexual safety • The project • Preliminary stages: chicken or egg? • Other considerations • Vulnerability and consent • Reflecting on process (so far) References
adults’ concerns about young people Last month’s news headlines: A dossier of abuse of the human rights of children and young people in Britain … widespread infringements of the UN convention … most serious defects include: • A punitive juvenile justice system; • Public attitudes that demonise teenagers; • Lack of protection against physical punishment in the home; • One of the highest levels of child poverty in Europe. The Guardian Monday, 09 June 2008 Under-25s offered online help as debts grow: • over 2 out of 3 young people aren't planning ahead; • increasing numbers are in debt; • a third owe more than £5,000 .The Independent Sunday, 08 June 2008 School meals 'near collapse' as soaring food costs and lack of Government funding take toll. The Daily Mail Monday, 23 June 2008
adults’ concerns about young women's sexual safety Last month’s news headlines: 1 in 5 parents refuse daughters' cervical cancer jab. The Guardian Friday April 25 2008 Abortion rate hits record high among under-16s. The Independent Saturday, 20 June 2008 The Pill online: Fear for young girls as website starts selling prescription-only contraceptives today.The Daily Mail Monday, 23 June 2008 Not in the headlines: women account for nearly half of the 40million people living with HIV-1 worldwide (Quinn and Overbaugh 2005) numerous studies into pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) all with sub-text of prevention and/or abstinence (Remez 2000; Wellings et al 2001)
safe from what? safe from whom? • ……………………………. • ……………………………. • …………………………….. • ……………………………. • …………………………… • ……………………………… • …………………………….. • …………………………….. • ……………………………. • …………………………….
18 heterosexual young women - action research group, YWCA Northampton 2006Lavie-Ajayi, M. (2007)
findings from the 2000 British Crime Survey Current levels of sexual victimisation • 0.9 per cent of women aged 16 to 59 said they had been subject to some form of sexual victimisation (including rape) during the last year. Levels of lifetime (since age 16) sexual victimisation • Around 1 in 10 women (9.7%) said they had experienced some form of sexual victimisation (including rape) since age 16. • Around 1 in 20 women (4.9%) said they had been raped on at least one occasion since age 16. Risk factors for sexual victimisation • Age is the biggest risk factor for experiencing sexual victimisation; young women aged 16 to 24 were more likely to say they had been sexually victimised in the last year than older women. • Single women, students, and women living in privately rented households also experienced higher than average risks of sexual victimisation; it is likely, however, that this is the same pattern reflected for age – young women are disproportionately found in these socio-demographic group (Myhill and Allen 2002)
adults’ lack of knowledge? • Failing to address sexuality and fertility for young people with impairments or health conditions means we also ‘fail to offer them the chance to feel good about themselves and to achieve socially and psychologically healthy adult identities’. (Balen & Crawshaw 2006 p11) • ‘Much of the violence and aggression that was talked about was sexual in nature and again, they spoke of young men’s violence against young women. “‘They try to nip your bum ... cos they just do it cos they’re …” (young woman)(Trotter 2006 p296)
adults’ lack of awareness? • ‘Young, out and proud: sexual health experts have expressed concern that - with no chance of pregnancy and few worries about STDs - lesbian teenagers are more promiscuous than their straight peers.’ The Guardian Friday October 13, 2006 • ‘The seemingly everyday occurrences of sexual aggression and intimidation between young people in schools might signal [adults’] disinterest or even acceptance of homophobic violence and violence against women’(Trotter 2006 p299)
young gay women's sexual safety One member of our group told us of a friend of hers that was walking hand-in-hand with her girlfriend one evening in the centre of Bristol and was attacked and punched by two men. Young woman, Lavie-Ajayi 2007 She got tortured for it. She ended up sitting on the front at dinner times and breaks for being called lesbian. She was the only one who ever got really badly bullied, and whether its true or not – nobody knows. Young man, Trotter, 2006 Generally there is a lack of specific services for young women – I think there’s a lot more for young men, and young gay men are so much more accepted than young women are ... I felt isolated … people need to feel safe about who to talk to. If you were black and getting racism you could maybe talk to a black teacher. But I didn’t know if there was any gay teachers … but it wasn’t talked about so you suspected that they were in hiding themselves or not allowed to be gay – doesn’t fill you with confidence. Young woman, Hind 2004
The project • research focus • differences between adults' perceptions and young people's • research aims • redressing the balance between the literature around young women and sexual safety (mostly based on adult-controlled research) by • involving young women in the design, content and structure of the research process; • by asking young women what they believe the differences and gaps are between their perceptions and adults' perceptions of young women's sexual safety and, • by involving the perspectives of young gay women (often missing from research in this area).
Consultation Design Content Structure Process Creating a safe environment : discussing a working agreement explaining research getting to know each other securing consent Ethical approval Permission Ethical approval Design Content Structure Process Creating a safe environment : discussing a working agreement explaining research getting to know each other securing consent Preliminary stages: chicken or egg?
Other considerations • self-presentation • insider/outsider status • influence of obtaining consent on participation rates • verbal consent / written consent • verbal parental consent / written parental consent (Geldens, 2002) • how informed can participants be? • how can consent be obtained from everyone who enters the field? • how extensive can consent to observation be assumed to be? (Mulhall, 2003) • 'informed dissent‘ – ensuring that children and young people can refuse to take part. (Edwards & Alldred, 1999)
Vulnerability and consent • lesbian and gay young people are characterised as vulnerable because lesbian and gay sexualities are largely stigmatised and/or ‘problematised’ identities. • conducting research with lesbian or gay young people is difficult because of • the reluctance of adults/professionals to agree to research focusing on sexuality • the reluctance of young people to participate because of risks of bullying and social exclusion. (Valentine, Butler & Skelton, 2001)
Reflecting on process (so far) • Stalled and frozen • Talking tough or feeling safe? • Mirrored experiences? “I’m happy because I’m not nervous and anxious or worried about being gay, I’m not worried about being on my own I’ve got more self confidence, I know being gay is normal and okay.” Young woman, Hind 2004
References Balen, R. & Crawshaw, M. (Eds.) (2006) Sexuality and Fertility Issues in Ill Health and Disability: From Adolescence to Adulthood, London: Jessica Kingsley. Edwards, R. & Alldred, P. (1999) Children and young people's views of social research: the case of research on home-school relations. Childhood, 6(2), 261 – 281. Geldens, P. (2002) I am not as cool as I thought I was: the challenges of conducting research with young people in rural areas. Rural Social Work 7(1), 1 – 6. Hind, T. (2004) Promoting Lesbian and Gay Health and Wellbeing, London: PACE. Mulhall, A. (2003) In the field: notes on observation in qualitative research. Journal of Advanced Nursing 41(3), 306 - 313. Quinn, T. C. and Overbaugh, J. (2005) HIV/AIDS in women: an expanding epidemic, Science, 308(5728), pp. 1582 – 1583 Remez, L. (2000) Oral sex among adolescents: is it sex or is it abstinence? Family Planning Perspectives, 32(6), pp. 298 - 304 Wellings, K., Nanchahal, K., Macdowall, W., McManus, S., Erens, B., Mercer, C., Johnson, A., Copas, A., Korovessis, C. and Fenton, K. (2001) Sexual behaviour in Britain: early heterosexual experience, The Lancet, 358(9296), pp. 1843 – 1850 Marston , C. and King, E. (2006) Factors that shape young people's sexual behaviour: a systematic review, The Lancet, 368(9547), pp. 1581 – 1586 Lavie-Ajayi, M. (2007) Is it a sex thing? Using co-operative inquiry to support sexual health: A YWCA report of action research by young women, Oxford: YWCA England & Wales Myhill, A. and Allen, J. (2002) Rape and Sexual Assault of Women: The Extent and Nature of the Problem. Home Office Research Study 237 Trotter, J. (2006) Violent crimes? Young people’s experiences of homophobia and misogyny in secondary schools. Practice, 18(4), 291 – 302 Valentine, G., Butler, R. & Skelton, T. (2001) The ethical and methodological complexities of doing research with ‘vulnerable’ young people. Ethics, Place and Environment 4, 117 - 178.
Talking tough and feeling safe Researching young women’s sexual safety: innovations and perspectives thank you Joy Trotter firstname.lastname@example.org