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New €675,000 study will examine online abuse in teenage relationships

Press release issued: 7 January 2013

The role of online technology in instigating and maintaining control and violence in young people’s intimate relationships will be examined in a new study led by researchers at the University of Bristol.

The role of online technology in instigating and maintaining control and violence in young people’s intimate relationships will be examined in a new study led by researchers at the University of Bristol.

Instant messaging and social networking sites are some of the most popular ways young people communicate today. However, these resources can also be used as a platform for bullying, harassment and abuse.

The EU-funded €675,000 project, led by Christine Barter from the University’s School for Policy Studies, will assess the risks associated with online technology and abuse in teenage (aged 14-17) relationships across five European countries [England, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Italy and Norway] to examine the role of technology in underpinning physical, sexual and emotional forms of violence.

The team aim to map the incidence, impact and dynamics of online and offline experiences of partner violence and control within young people’s lives to help understand the nature of, and factors associated with, online partner violence. 

Results from the study will help towards raising awareness of the issue and the development of appropriate prevention and intervention programmes including a web-based resource and app for young people to use.

Christine Barter, the study’s lead author, said: “We hope to raise awareness of this under-researched form of intimate violence by enabling young people’s experiences and views to inform policy and practice and enhancing the development of appropriate prevention and intervention programmes across Europe.“

The two-year study, entitled ‘Safeguarding Teenage Intimate Relationships (STIR): Connecting online and offline contexts and risks, led by Christine Barter, Marsha Wood and Nadia Aghtaie in the University’s School of Policy Studies will begin in January 2013.