Care vs Control: Healthy Relationships

Girls' experiences of unhealthy and controlling relationships, the role of social media and what we're doing to tackle these issues

Girls need to be informed and empowered so they can build healthy relationships

Care Vs Control: Healthy Relationships describes the findings of our research into controlling and coercive behaviour in teenage relationships. We carried out the research after our 2012 Girls' Attitudes Survey, found:

  • two fifths of girls said they thought it was acceptable for their partner to keep tabs on where they are all the time
  • 21% believe that it's acceptable for a partner to shout and name call at them.

What we found

While most girls were clear that violence, threats, sexual coercion and abusive relationships are unacceptable in theory, some struggled to identify this in real life scenarios and some girls were less clear about more subtle forms of abuse and controlling behaviours. Primarily, some girls saw behaviour rooted in jealousy and lack of trust as evidence of genuine care and concern for their welfare.

Controlling relationships and social media

We also found that partners were using social media to monitor what girls were doing, constantly 'checking-in'. This can cloud girls' judgement about what level of control and surveillance is acceptable.

Lack of support

Girls told us they didn't feel able to talk to parents or teachers about their relationships and that they weren't getting enough information about healthy relationships at school.

What we're doing

Peer education - girls said they preferred to talk about relationships with others their own age in a girl-only environment. In response to this, we released a peer education pack for girls and young women called Healthy Relationships

Calling for modernised Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) in all schools - we are urging the Government to make high quality SRE statutory. Find out more about our campaign.