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Centre research informs new website launched to raise awareness of rape

Professor David Berridge, of the Centre for Family Policy and Child Welfare, spoke on BBC Radio Bristol's morning show (36.10 onwards) today about the launch of a new website:

The new and unique website aims to help victims of rape and sexual assault across Avon and Somerset, and was launched in a bid to educate people about the crime and encourage more victims to come forward and report what has happened to them.

It is aimed mainly at young people aged between 13 and 24 as research completed for the NSPCC by Professor Berridge, Christine Barter and others has shown that sexual assaults are often committed against people in this age group.

Professor Berridge said: "Our research has shown that 1 in 20 teenage girls we surveyed said that physical force had been used against them to force them into sexual intercourse. There are many reasons to criticise the current government but they have done a lot to publicise this situation for young people in their everyday relationships. We need a multi-pronged strategy of legislation and awareness raising and this website, especially with the section written in language young people can understand, is a positive step. It's not just teenage girls and women who need to keep themselves safe: boys and men need to accept that forced sexual activity is unacceptable, illegal, and needs to stop."

On the BBC Radio programme, four young people discuss how the website has informed them about the facts of sexual assault and spoke about the impact of advertising campaigns run by the NSPCC.

One teenage girl said [of the website], "It's really valuable to go on even for just five minutes, to learn a couple of ways to protect yourself and the misconceptions."

Another says, "It is also really clear about where to go for help if it does happen and how to report a rape."

The website is run by Avon and Somerset Police and takes the user through a range of information; from the types of rape and sexual assault that can be committed, who to contact, to the type of care they will receive, the investigation, and their ability to control the process.

Schools and other organisations can also support the campaign through downloading posters and cards, and can order a DVD through the website.

(The interview was also broadcast on BBC Radio Somerset).