Celebrating Confidence on Singles Awareness Day

This week has been all about love and relationships which brings to mind concerns about the pressures young people have often felt; to be attractive, to be in a relationship and to be having sex.

This week has been all about love and relationships (or lack of); Tuesday was Galentine’s Day (grown from US sitcom Parks & Recreation about women celebrating their female friends), yesterday of course was Valentine’s Day and today is Singles Awareness Day – a humorous opportunity for single people to express their contentment of being alone and celebrating themselves.

This brings to mind concerns about the pressures young people have often felt; to be attractive, to be in a relationship and to be having sex.

Pressures on young people in research

Research from the NSPCC in 2015 found that 4 in 10 teenage schoolgirls in England had experienced pressure to have sex, as well as controlling behaviour from partners such as checking their social media accounts, telling them who they could and couldn’t be friends with and pressures to send sexual images.

The research also found that England had the highest rate for children sending each other sexual images with 4 in 10 girls and just under a third of boys having sent a sexual image or message to their boyfriend or girlfriend.

Researchers found that a high proportion of boys aged 14-17 watched pornography and 1 in 5 had some worryingly negative attitudes to women and particularly with violence against women with around 18% agreeing with a statement that it would be ok to hit a woman if she had been unfaithful.

Impact on young people’s confidence and self-esteem

With controlling pressures at such a young age, along with the internet and digital technology enabling children to view and share sexual content much more easily, the concern is that they are not having a balanced awareness from adults (parents, teachers, professionals) of what a healthy relationship looks like and what sex should mean.

It could be argued that growing social and sexual pressures are affecting young people’s view of themselves and their appearance too, which could also be dramatically impacting their confidence and self-esteem.

Global research by Dove in 2016 found that the UK had one of the lowest body confidence rates of women and girls, with just 20% saying they felt confident in their appearance. Of the global research, 72% of girls feel huge pressure to be beautiful, with 5% saying they hate the way they look and more than half saying they would be happier if they were more physically attractive. The study also found that 79% of girls would choose to opt-out of taking part in an activity or social occasion if they didn’t like the way they looked. The lack of physical confidence has led to girls spending an average of 42 minutes a day on their appearance, applying make-up and choosing what to wear, with 65% of girls saying they feel pressured through advertising to look a certain way.

Singles Awareness Day and what it means for Safe & Sound

We’re acknowledging Singles Awareness Day because we feel it is important for children and young people to appreciate themselves, putting let emphasis on physical relationships to define them or make them feel good about themselves. As well as educating young people on healthy relationships, we hope that plans for making PSHE compulsory in all schools will include empowerment of women and girls on the curriculum, debunking stereotypes about porn and increasing body-confidence and self-esteem.

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