Young love. High-school romance. The intensity of all-consuming teenage crush.
Feeling nostalgic? Don’t.
Because kids as young as 13 are bashing their girlfriends.
The terrifying issue of teenage boys physically attacking their equally-young partners has escalated so quickly that two of the state’s children’s courts have had to instate domestic violence counsellors for the first time.
Intimate partner violence between teenagers is increasing at a faster rate than amongst all other groups within our community.
Schoolgirls hiding bruises under their uniforms, lying to their parents. Once bold young women getting comfortable with fear and shame. Taking in lessons in how a boy who “likes them”, maybe even “loves them” is going to treat them. A cycle of abuse and neglect and violence kicking into motion before anyone can even vote.
“The fastest growing part of the problem of domestic violence is young people,” NSW Police assistant commissioner Mark Murdoch told the Sydney Morning Herald. “We are seeing more young people put before courts than we have ever seen.”
How can it be possible? After decades of education about domestic violence. After decades of feminism. Amid all the talk of the bubble-wrap generation, of helicopter parents and kids whose self-esteem is too damn high? How can it be possible after decades of campaigns and billboards and footballers going on white ribbon walks?
Mark Murdoch thinks he knows. And he thinks the answer is porn.
“Common sense would tell you there has to be a linkage between pornography and lack of respect in relationships between young people,” Mr Murdoch said.
The top policeman says that young men – no-one will be surprised to hear – consume more pornography than any other section of society, and that kids are now watching porn at an earlier age and at a faster pace, and basically? It’s screwing with their young, impressionable minds.
Before they have even entered into romantic relationships of their own, they are seeing unrealistic examples being set in pornography that is freely and easily accessible online. And young men are taking those expectations into the real world, and placing them onto their young girlfriends.
Men’s Referral Service manager Nathan DeGuara told Fairfax that he agrees the link between teen violence and porn is explicit:
“Pornography sets up the expectations of what a man should expect from a woman. Pornography is typically about men doing whatever is it is they want to do to women.”
Of course, DeGuara and Murdoch are not alone in this. Worries about porn and children is nothing new. Ever since pornography came out from under the spare bed and sneaked into your pocket, the age at which kids get exposed to it has dropped dramatically, and the appetite for ever more shocking content just keeps increasing. And if that’s what you see, that’s what you expect will happen in your life.