The general objective of the project is to promote the sexual health of young people across Europe by improving the understanding of youth sexual aggression and victmization (YSAV) and improve the (policy, health care, educational) responses to YSAV. The knowledge base on youth sexual violence is notably limited and ill-harmonised, multicountry and multidisciplinary dialogue are virtually absent, and member states fail to learn from each other and develop shared, joint strategies towards context-sensitive responses to youth sexual violence. Specific strategic objectives of the project are to work towards fulfilling these needs and establish a multidisciplinary, multicountry expert network, strengthen (expand and harmonise) the knowledge base, and mobilize action by developing a context-sensitive European Action Plan.
There is ample evidence that youth sexual violence is highly prevalent in many European countries, and that young people`s health is strongly endangered by it. At present, an increasingly sexualised youth culture in many countries might be an additional risk factor for perpetration and victimization. In general, sexual violence is accompanied by high costs in terms of expenditures on health, courts and police, as well as losses in terms of educational achievement of productivity of girls in particular and a noted impediment towards gender equity. The project contributes to the health program by contributing towards an increased knowledge base on aggressive sexual behaviour and victimization of young people, and towards tackling youth sexual violence determinants and the promotion of a healthier, i.e. non-violent sexual way of life.
Methods are to, first, establish the expert network by recruiting at least 50 stakeholders from at least half of the EU MS. Next, state-of-the-art reports will be created, compiling evidence on incidence/prevalence, risk factors, policies and health care response in partner and other MS. Critical assessment of the available evidence will lead to the development of a Standard Set of Indicators (SSI) and connected research methodology to guide (harmonised) future monitoring across Europe. SSI will be pre-tested in (small-scale) additional data gathering in at least three of the associated countries. Thirdly, in collaboration with network members from 4-6 strategically chosen additional European countries, the project team will develop a draft context-sensitive European Strategic Action Plan (ESAP) that will be finalised after critical discussion with network members from various European MS. The advanced knowledge base as well as the ESAP will be made available via a website, (inter)national media coverage, project reports, scientific articles, and other existing relevant databases.
Outcomes of the project will be a better understanding of youth sexual aggression and victimization and their risk factors in various European contexts and of the why, what and where of effective measures in responding to it. From there, specific, context-sensitive well-targeted policy and health-care response will be proposed. Knowledge base and Action Plan will be the result of desk top research as well as, most importantly, multicountry and multidisciplinary dialogue, and will be widely shared. Thus, the project will also contribute to the infrastructure for further exchange and cooperation on youth sexual violence in Europe. It provides important building stones to, on the longer term, stimulate governmental and NGO action and strengthen adequate response to youth sexual violence all across Europe and thus context-sensitive sexual health promotion among young people.