Young people's views on gender stereotypes are linked to their attitudes towards gender based violence, according to a Scottish Government report published today.

Young People’s Attitudes to Violence Against Women is based on the 2014 Young People in Scotland survey of 11-18 year olds, which explored the attitudes of young people. It finds that those who held stereotypical gender views were less likely to view sexual harassment or controlling behaviour as seriously wrong; and that boys were more likely than girls to hold discriminatory attitudes when it came to gender.

The report, published during the international campaign for 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-based Violence, which runs until 10 December, finds that young people were less likely than adults to think that various kinds of violence against women that they were asked about were very seriously wrong, or to think that they would cause a great deal of harm. In some cases the difference was quite striking.

For example, 88% of adults, but 76% of young people, think it "very seriously" or "always" wrong for a man to put naked photos of his ex-girlfriend on the internet without telling her – so called "revenge porn". Among young people, the figures break down into 85% of girls, but only 68% of boys. And 95% of adults, but 80% of young people (73% of boys), think it should be against the law.

Stereotypical views were measured through attitudes to buying certain toys for boys and girls. As found with adults in another survey, those who held stereotypical views on gender roles were consistently less likely to view a wide range of abusive behaviours as wrong or harmful. 

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance commented: “Violence against women is both a symptom and cause of wider gender inequality in our society, and this survey has reflected that. We are determined to bring a halt to gender discrimination – we want every young person in Scotland to develop mutually respectful, responsible and confident relationships with others.

“This report flags areas we all know are a concern, and that’s why we are working to change attitudes at an early stage."

The Government is working with Education Scotland and the General Teaching Council in creating a framework for gender-based violence programmes in schools, and has also committed funding to deliver programmes engaging with schoolchildren on gender stereotyping and different forms of sexual violence.

Ms Constance added: “Young people have told us they are aware of the use of technology in new forms of violence and that they want this to be tackled – which is why we are continuing to modernise our laws and through the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Act revenge porn will soon be illegal.

“Ending violence against women has to be part of a broader strategy to achieve true gender equality in Scotland, and that’s what this Government aims to do. By addressing gender stereotypes, campaigning for gender equality in the boardroom and helping women into work we are determined to create a society where discrimination has no place.”