Children will be taught how to prevent violent relationships
Every school pupil in England is to be taught that domestic violence against women and girls is unacceptable, as part of a new government strategy.
Under the plans, from 2011 children will be taught from the age of five how to prevent violent relationships.
BBC News website readers have been sending their reaction to the plans:
FOR THE PLANS
In a previous marriage I lived with domestic violence for nearly ten years. I brought up two children who have needed counselling and support in later years as they came to accept that violence in a relationship is the norm and acceptable as their mother put up with it for nearly ten years. It is important that children are properly supported and "educated" at an early age to understand that domestic violence is wrong. I remember my daughter when she was out riding one day telling her friend with pride that her dad had pulled her mum off her bed by her hair. She at the time could see no wrong in this.
At my school, Eastbourne Technology College, we have already taught about domestic violence as it is an important but largely ignored issue. Its also important to concentrate not just on the obvious signs of abuse in relationships but all forms including bullying behaviour which can be verbal, financial and emotional. Students started to talk about issues in their friends relationships and in some cases incidents of domestic abuse they witnessed.
Martin Brennan, Eastbourne
I see no reason to exclude this from schools. Children do need an awareness that domestic abuse in all its forms is unacceptable. Information will empower people, and point them towards agencies. Don't suffer in silence or worse still get killed.
I welcome this approach to helping children learn that violence is not acceptable and only causes more harm. Sometimes it takes a different approach to work, as a minority of people who have children do not teach them the consequences of their actions. How many parents would raise this topic with their children? The children who live within their parents abusive relationship are victims and many of these children think that this behaviour is normal when clearly it is not and go on to have or be in abusive relationships when they grow up.
Carole Bates, Bolton
I think this is an amazing idea. I was abused by my partner for years - I thought this was ok as I was abused by my father throughout my life at home too. Leaving it to the parents to teach that this is wrong may not always be a good idea. I think go for it! It will help millions of women out there.
I think this is a very positive step. I think if children are more aware of this kind of behaviour then they will not only go onto healthy relationships but also challenge their parents or other adults about their behaviour
It's all very well having school children taught about domestic violence towards women and children being wrong, but what about teaching them that domestic violence towards anybody is wrong, or is it okay for men and boys to be on the receiving end?
David Handley, Wolverhampton
I am an Adviser for PSHE Education and fully support the role schools, in partnership, can play in developing understanding, coping skills and raising awareness of this issue. However, to see things in isolation is not helpful. This is part of relationship education as a whole, along with sex education, friendship, anti-bullying and discrimination. In each of these, how we understand relationships, how we respect ourselves and others, lie at the foundation of addressing the issue. Good relationship education within strong PSHE education from an early age lays the foundation for positive relationships as children grow into adulthood. And it is more often with the adults that we need to work.
Bill Moore, Aylesbury
AGAINST THE PLANS
As a male who was in the past a victim of domestic violence and sexual abuse I feel that a 'gender specific' approach to discussing the issues of domestic violence in schools runs the risk of 'demonising' males. Many young men already suffer severe low self-esteem and as a consequence underachieve in the education system. A ham-fisted attempt to focus solely on males as 'perpetrators' will not assist in providing all kids both boys and girls with the emotional intelligence to apply peaceful conflict resolution techniques to their personal relationships as they grow up.
Having come out of an abusive relationship for both the safety of myself and my daughter - I am worried that by bringing this back into her life when she attends school next year may cause damage to the good that has happened to her in the last year - whilst she will understand what has happened, I dread the thought that by having this explained to a wider audience may make her more conscious of her position and that this happened in her home... I will bring my daughter up myself to understand how you should treat people and what is right and wrong... this should be down to the parents not the authorities.
Once again, as a teacher I find myself irritated at angry with government ministers who feel the need to tell teachers how to do their jobs. Do they not think that we already endeavour to teach children that violence in any form is wrong, and that verbal, physical or mental cruelty is simply not acceptable on any level? Do they not think that as rational, sympathetic teachers we seek only to guide the pupils and give a good moral education?
Joanne Hepworth, Mirfield
While I totally agree that women need protecting when it comes to domestic violence I would question this move. It is very important to raise awareness but not with school children aged five. Also why only do this with violence against women? It should be domestic violence without exception or not at all.
Good idea in principle, but it's probably another step towards thought control by this police state. Children at five can't distinguish between a heated row and actual physical violence. Will children be encouraged to turn daddy in to the authorities if mum and dad have a row?
I am a parent to a small boy and yes, small children ought to know the wrongs about hitting, violence and so on, but to have specific lessons about domestic violence is just not right. I think despite the teachers, special lessons about anti-social behaviour and violence is something that could seriously backfire. At a young age they should be worrying about being children and not about the issues of adulthood. I was a victim of domestic violence, so I am very aware of it and its effects. Would it have happened had myself and the person causing it been taught about it - YES. I walked out as I didn't want to be in that position. You can't stop it by teaching it. You have to help those who suffer it and support them to move on.
This discussion has really affected me. In 2006, my then husband tried to smother my three year old in his bed. I had suffered years of mental and physical torture at his hands, but nobody would support or believe me until my son told the preschool helpers what had happened. I was unaware of what had happened, but had to immediately move to my parents to protect my children. There is no point giving a name to this behaviour in the school room, if the legal system and the government are prepared to do nothing to protect our children and prove that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.
I work for a domestic violence charity and welcome any additional funding the government will provide. However I am concerned that the proposed lessons will begin before sufficient support services are in place to manage the fall-out of children reporting abuse in their homes. It seems the cart is being put before the horse.
Paula Doyle, Lincoln
There are a large number of men who experience domestic abuse, this largely goes unreported due to stigma and embarrassment. This programme appears biased towards women and ethnic minorities.
Mark Brunner, Redditch