A new campaign led by a group of young women and girls, which aims to tackle peer sexual abuse, encourage healthy relationships, and breakdown the barriers to seeking support, was launched at Montrose Football Club on Thursday 2 November 2023.
Brave Lassies Blether is being delivered by NSPCC Scotland and The Young Women’s Movement in partnership with Angus Council, and led by a group of senior pupils at Angus schools. They aim to raise awareness of what a healthy relationship looks and feels like and help young people access services if they need support or feel worried or uncomfortable in their relationships.
The group of pupils chose the name ‘Brave Lassies Blether’ for the campaign because they want every young person to know they can talk about their feelings and relationships and that it is brave to speak out.
The young women will meet and greet people at the launch event and talk about their work so far and future plans, which include co-creating resources for young people to provide guidance on contacting support services and a guide for professionals and support services on how to work with and support young people.
Ella, a young woman involved in the project said:
“The girls involved with Brave Lassies Blether are excited to get involved in a campaign about healthy relationships and the importance of accessing support services.
“We discussed how hard it can be for young people to reach out for help as they may not know where to seek support, so we wanted to change this by starting this campaign. We all hope that this campaign is going to go far and reach everyone, as we are hoping to help all young people discuss issues around harassment and assault with professionals if they feel this is needed."
Tash Reilly, NSPCC Scotland Local Campaigns Officer, said:
“Experiencing peer sexual abuse and sexual harassment can have a long-lasting and devastating impact on someone’s life, and so it is vital that young people understand where to turn if something happens that makes them feel uncomfortable.
“We hope that these resources will help young people to understand where and how they can easily access support, so they feel empowered in their relationships.
“We believe it takes a whole community approach to achieve real change, so we are encouraging everyone to spread the messages and resources throughout Angus.” Lou Chauvin, Collective Voice & Action Coordinator, The Young Women's Movement (YWM), said: "We firmly believe that every young person should know where and how to easily access safe and supportive spaces that make them feel validated, heard and empowered.
"Experiencing peer sexual abuse and sexual harassment can often result in young people feeling isolated or like they have no one to turn to. Listening to young people’s needs and powerful messages is a key aspect of raising awareness on this issue.
"We are proud to platform young people’s voices through this important and meaningful youth-led campaign. We are hopeful that this is a real opportunity to make tangible change within the local community and to improve young people’s access and engagement with support services."
Angus Council’s Convenor of Children and Learning, Councillor Lynne Devine, said:
“I’m incredibly proud and inspired by the young women from Forfar Academy, Webster's High School and Montrose Academy who are involved in this project to tackle peer sexual abuse and harassment.
“I look forward to seeing the girls’ work shared across our secondary schools to enhance the very important current work on healthy relationships and accessing appropriate support services.”
The Brave Lassies Blether campaign is part of the Young Women Know project, which was set up following an investigation into sexual harassment in Scottish schools carried out by the YWCA’s Young Women Lead committee in 2018. It found that young people were most likely to turn to the internet or their friends for advice on sex and relationships and almost half of students and teaching staff surveyed said the current curriculum did not adequately cover the issue of consent.
In the same year, the NSPCC published a report on peer sexual abuse, which looked at contacts to its helplines. It revealed that Childline had held more than 3,000 counselling sessions with young people across the UK about this issue in the previous year, with more than 95 per cent of the contacts being aged 12 and over. They talked about it happening in school, in parks, at parties and other people’s houses, as well as online.
Brave Lassies Blether will also be meeting with the Education Committee in mid-November and promoting further information and resources across Angus during an Awareness Week in February. Future events will be promoted across NSPCC and The Young Women’s Movement’s social media channels.
Young people looking for support on any of the issues mentioned, can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or visit Childline.org.uk. Childline is there for all young people up until their 19th birthday. If you suspect someone is in immediate danger you should call the police on 999.
Read more about the Brave Lassies Campaign on Young Women Scot's website.