The Line - a behaviour change program for young people

The Line is a primary prevention behaviour change campaign for young people aged 12 to 20 years and supports parents, caregivers, teachers and other influencers, too.

Our Watch commissioned Hall and Partners Open Mind in 2014 to conduct research to inform The Line campaign’s approach from 2015. Researchers surveyed 3,000 people, including 2,000 12 to 24 year olds, conducted 49 focus groups and undertook depth interviews with young people and parents, and interviewed experts and stakeholders.

The research reveals that young people are struggling to work out what healthy, respectful relationships look like.

  • 1 in 3 young people don’t think that exerting control over someone else is a form of violence.
  • 1 in 4 young people don’t think it’s serious when guys insult or verbally harass girls in the street.
  • 1 in 4 young people think it’s pretty normal for guys to pressure girls into sex.
  • 15 per cent of young people think it’s ok for a guy to pressure a girl for sex if they’re both drunk.
  • 1 in 4 young people don’t think it’s serious if a guy, who’s normally gentle, sometimes slaps his girlfriend when he’s drunk and they’re arguing.
  • More than one quarter of young people think it’s important for men to be tough and strong.
  • 16 per cent of young people think that women should know their place.

Gender stereotypes appear to be having a significant negative impact on young people’s expectations and behaviours when it comes to intimate relationships. Parents aren’t talking to their children about the issues, it’s not being adequately covered in the education system, and community leaders are not addressing it.

As a result, young people are being left in a vacuum and require information and guidance from parents and teachers. Social media is playing a central role in young people’s relationships; actions are being played out publicly, and previously unacceptable behaviours offline become easier to do online. This is giving young people even less opportunity to learn to understand and negotiate respectful, healthy and equal relationships.

Young people are being left to figure it all out for themselves from other sources: their friends, their ‘heroes’, the media’s portrayal of women, pornography, and porn-inspired popular culture.

Encouragingly, the research reveals that young people universally agree that behaviours that make a girl or woman feel frightened, diminished or intimidated ‘cross the line’ and are unacceptable. However, the research shows there is a group of young men who are more likely to justify and potentially perpetrate violence against girls and women in the future.

The Line encourages healthy and respectful relationships by challenging and changing attitudes and behaviours that support violence.

New research shows we need to challenge violence supportive attitudes among youth. Read the Our Watch media release on The Line campaign here.