London: More than 40 per cent of girls between ages 13-17 in England have been coerced into sexual acts, one of the largest European surveys has revealed.

The survey by the Universities of Bristol and Central Lancashire and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) also found that many teenage boys regularly viewed pornography and one in five had extremely negative attitudes towards women, The Guardian reported.

The survey was also carried out in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Italy and Norway. It found that rates of sexual coercion of teenage girls was the highest in England.

It found that 22 per cent of girls had suffered physical violence or intimidation from boyfriends, including slapping, punching, strangling and being beaten with an object.

A fifth of boys thought it was “OK” to hit a girl if they had been unfaithful.

These countries also had the most children sexting images of themselves to partners.

For the study, researchers conducted a school-based survey of 4,500 children and 100 interviews with young people across five countries.

“The levels of victimisation revealed by this research shows action is urgently needed by the government to make updated sex and relationship education a statutory right for every child and young person,” Claire Lilley, head of child safety online at the NSPCC, was quoted as saying.

According to Christine Barter, NSPCC senior research fellow, the research highlighted the dangers that young children were being exposed to because of a lack of support.

Almost 39 per cent of boys aged 14-17 said they regularly watched pornography.

Nearly 18 per cent strongly agreed with statements such as “It is sometimes acceptable for a man to hit a woman if she has been unfaithful” and “Women lead men on sexually and then complain about the attention they get”.

“There needs to be a greater focus in schools on topics such as sexual exploitation and violence against girls and young women, as part of a balanced curriculum,” Lilley added.