'School pupils need safe space for help with teenage relationships'

A campaign group was launched to tackle abusive behaviour in young relationships.

A campaign to tackle abusive behaviour within teenage relationships is aiming to set up safe spaces in high schools.

Oor Fierce Girls, launched by a group of young women from Dundee two years ago, want to create areas where youngsters can receive confidential help about relationships.

Ashley Henderson was one of the first girls to help front this project when she attended Baldragon Academy. She’s now at university, but remains involved with the campaign.

University student Ashley Henderson has been involved with the campaign since it launched two years ago

“I wanted to help my friends when they were in unsafe situations and I’d seen a lot of toxic relationships at the time and I wanted to be able to help them as best I could,” she said.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive but almost in a sad way. People didn’t realise how they’d been treated in their past.

“I had adults come to me and say their teenage relationships weren’t as good as they thought they were.”

The campaign’s latest project has seen them create an animation, voiced by themselves, which breaks down what they’d want from a safe space and the benefits it could have.

Pledge to support Oor Fierce Girls.

“This video is something that’s really important to them,” said Carla Malseed, campaigns manager for NSPCC Scotland.

“It was about the fact they felt young people needed a safe space to even begin to have these conversations.”

The organisation has been working alongside YWCA Scotland and Dundee City Council to help young woman and girls understand what a healthy relationship is or feels like and where to go if they need advice or support.

The local authority said it would back the call for safe spaces in schools.

“We’re absolutely committed to the Oor Fierce Girls project operating in our schools across the city,” said councillor Roisin Smith, depute convener of the children’s and families committee.

“Currently they are very active in at least four schools across the city. Every year, as one cohort of young women move on we recruit new ones to take their place and create that extra layer.”

The full scale of sexual abuse within young people’s relationships is not clear, but it’s known that girls are more likely to be abused than boys.

This project was launched in Dundee as a pilot – with similar work now being carried out in neighbouring authorities Angus and Perth and Kinross.

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