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Tackling abuse against children

Feb 26, 2009

The Expect Respect Educational Toolkit by Women’s Aid has been designed to help schools address the issue of domestic abuse. This online resource contains useful information for teachers to create a stable and supportive learning environment for children coping with violence.

The Expect Respect Education Toolkit

Publisher: Women’s Aid, October 2008

Domestic abuse is a widespread social problem and for the 750,000 children who witness domestic abuse each year, the damaging effects can be long lasting and impact on every area of their lives.

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This online education toolkit includes easy to use lessons for each year group from five to 18 and is based on themes that have been found to be effective in tackling abuse and violence against children.

There is a growing recognition that the home lives of children and young people can have a significant impact on their ability to participate fully in school life and achieve academically. Tackling abusive behaviour and sexist attitudes that perpetuate violence against women should, therefore, be addressed on a continuing basis as part of the whole school culture, and not just a ‘one-off’ exercise.

Schools are therefore in a key position to raise the issue of domestic abuse in a safe, structured, learning environment. In particular schools can:

  • challenge the myths that perpetuate domestic abuse
  • support children to seek help and safety
  • model and promote healthy, non-violent relationships

Each lesson is designed to be active, fun and engaging, but also challenging. Whilst not all of the lesson plans raise domestic abuse directly, they have been written using themes found to be effective in tackling domestic abuse, such as:

  • challenging assumptions about gender, power and equality
  • changing beliefs and attitudes about men and women
  • managing feelings and accepting responsibility for one’s own feelings and behaviour
  • helping to resolve conflict
  • knowing the difference between abusive and non-abusive relationships
  • promoting the consistent message that abuse is not acceptable
  • understanding that domestic abuse is a crime
  • highlighting the role of peers in providing support
  • giving information about where to get help

Although the Expect Respect Education Toolkit is targeted for use by teachers within schools, it can just as easily be used by a range of other professionals working with children and young people in a variety of settings such as youth clubs or play schemes.

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