THE impact of domestic abuse on children is a concern often highlighted by campaigners throughout the national media.

Young impressionable minds being exposed to relationships defined by controlling behaviour, or in some cases violence, could influence those youngsters in how they approach their own relationships.

While those who experience domestic abuse as a youth will not then automatically go on to become an abuser themselves, the impact on childhood development remains a cause for worry.

And while the common perception may be that domestic abuse occurs in adult relationships, this is not necessarily the only place.

Yet today it is argued that teenagers are heading into adult relationships at a much earlier age and if they take abusive behaviour from the relationships around them then this would present the likelihood of more youngsters experiencing domestic abuse well before they leave school.

Furthermore, the hegemony of social media also presents an ongoing risk that abuse experienced within a teenage relationship would be relentless.

Clackmannanshire Women’s Aid is one of many groups across Scotland aiming to address any harmful attitudes which teenagers may have with regards to their relationship views.

With concerns over dating abuse among young adults, the group began working directly with school pupils in the hopes of making them understand when they become involved in an abusive or even dangerous relationship.

Aimee Lightowler, one of schools’ outreach workers with Clackmannanshire Women's Aid, said: "During one-to-one sessions, we find out more about pupils’ relationships in terms of attitudes in a relationship and it’s frightening what we get from boys and girls in terms of what is and what is not acceptable.

“It’s only when we’re talking about domestic abuse in general that they then begin to think about their own relationships.

"And so we went to the schools and said these concerns were coming out more and more now.”

She added: “For anyone to be deferred to our service, the young person has to have experienced domestic abuse in their lives, whether it’s historic or current.

"We have had a few of dating-abuse, but we don’t get many because many young people might not realise they are in a dating-abuse relationship until we are talking to them about it.

"It may well be that we’re working with a young girl whose mother has had three or four volatile relationships and so that’s what they see as normal. They can be desensitised.

"Also, it can be really hard to convince a girl that the person they are in love with is abusive. We can’t just say he is wrong for you, they have to realise why. That's one of the challenges of our jobs, because you can't demean that."

Ms Lightowler also highlighted further concerns that social media can make dating abuse relationships more entrenched and prolonged.

She said: “Every young person has Facebook and a mobile phone and in some cases there can be no escaping that relationship.

"If you don't get back to them on Facebook or in a text, no matter what time it is then the next day you have to go to school and face them.

"There is a punishment for that, not necessarily physical but still a punishment. It's essentially bullying.

"Not so long ago, those in school who were in a relationship would go home and they'd be away from them."

Ms Lightowler also highlighted the fear of non-consensual sharing of intimate imagery — commonly known as revenge porn — circulating among older teens.

She added: "We really try to drive home the message that once you make or send an image, it’s out there forever and there’s no getting it back.

The work of Women's Aid in schools is largely based on respect, but it has been argued that a lot of that work is being undone due to ongoing sexualisation of children and of misogynistic influences in the popular culture.

Furthermore, the ease of access to explicit pornography may be fuelling abuse towards women in youthful relationships.

Christine Clark, head of the local Women's Aid branch, said: “It may be that more young people are becoming exposed to abusive relationships because of a bigger picture of society. Children are being sexualised younger, being exposed to sexual imagery and have easier access to really hardcore kinds of pornography.

"It’s all having a knock-on effect. Children and young adults are going into relationships at an earlier age, and due to their exposure to certain types of pornography, young boys may feel that is how they are to behave in a relationship.

"The levels of violence towards women in porn these days is exceptionally-high, and they say the average age of a boy that watches porn is 11.

"It’s not like how it was a few years ago; it’s not just adolescent curiosity. It is really different material young boys are watching.

"There is so many mixed messages out there about consent and these are the things are not being addressed properly."