Talking about domestic abuse at school and college
Since September 2020, relationships education – including recognising abusive behaviour – has been compulsory in every primary school, and relationships and sex education – which covers domestic abuse – is compulsory in every secondary school.
It’s important to educate schoolchildren about domestic abuse to ensure they know the signs and where to get help if needed.
Schools provide an opportunity to educate, and teachers play a pivotal role in this, as you will have more contact with children than most others. Children living in a home where there is domestic abuse, or older children embarking on relationships who may experience domestic abuse, are in need of protection.
According to the charity Refuge, 750,000 children witness domestic violence every year, and the charity Save Lives says that 62% of children living with domestic abuse are directly harmed by the perpetrator of the abuse, in addition to the harm caused by witnessing the abuse of others.
Figures from Save Lives show that, on average, high-risk victims live with domestic abuse for 2.6 years before getting help, and according to the NSPCC around one in five students aged 11 to 17 have been exposed to domestic abuse. One in five.
It’s likely that as a teacher, you’ve worked with someone or taught someone who is living in fear today, but you can play a significant role.
Knowing the signs
Child protection training teaches us that changes in behaviour, appearance, health, mental health, ability to learn, and attitude, can be signs that child abuse could be occurring.
However, it is less well-known that domestic abuse can lead to similar changes. In protecting parents, we are protecting children.
Teaching about domestic abuse
Teaching young people about domestic abuse will support them in knowing the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, helping them to know the signs and ensure they don’t end up in abuse relationships themselves.
It educates them and also opens up a potential avenue for any child currently living with domestic abuse to reach out and get support for themselves and their parents.
Is This Love? campaign
Every year, the Safer Portsmouth Partnership delivers a campaign in secondary schools called ‘Is This Love?’ to encourage discussion around healthy and unhealthy behaviours in relationships.
In 2021, Is This Love? will be delivered to schools and colleges by a member of the Public Health team at Portsmouth City Council. The information session will be supported by campaign materials such as quiz scratch-cards, branded pens and posters. See our introductory video below:
Resources for the campaign include a presentation (delivered in school by Chantelle Knight, PHSE Framework Development Officer at Portsmouth City Council), pre- and post-lesson plans and a scratch-card quiz. A longer version of the quiz can be seen online here.
Last year, almost 20 schools and colleges in the city took part. If you’d like to get involved, please complete this sign-up sheet to request the date you would like Chantelle to present at your school. The session can be delivered socially-distanced on site, or online via Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Find out more about Is This Love?