SafeLives welcomes compulsory healthy relationships education

28th February 2017

The Government has today announced that all school children will be taught about healthy and safe relationships. Crucially, the Government has said this will be compulsory from the age of four. SafeLives warmly welcomes this announcement. We have worked for years looking at the impact of domestic abuse on children and young people, and are currently running a Spotlight project that listens to children, teenagers, survivors and services on what needs to happen to curtail the cycle of abuse. We know that 1 in 4 children who see domestic abuse at home will go on to experience abuse in their own relationships, and in some cases use violence against others themselves. We need schools across the UK to be part of the solution to intervene earlier and support them to understand how to have healthy, respectful and safe relationships. We also need specialist support for children and young people inside and outside of the school environment.

If we are ever to tackle domestic abuse, we need to confront the issue that thousands of children are observing and absorbing the effects of an abusive relationship at home; 130,000 children live in homes where there is a high-risk of murder or serious harm. An NSPCC and University of Bristol study found that nearly 75% of girls have reported some sort of emotional partner abuse, and one survey found that 77 per cent of young people feel that they do not have enough information and support to deal with physical or sexual violence.

Domestic abuse can happen at any age and is not simply a criminal justice issue. The education system is a vital component to stepping in and ensuring we intervene as early as possible, or of course prevent young people being harmed or causing harm.

We look forward to further detail from the Government on what the new curriculum will look like and of course hope to work with them to ensure the voices of children and young people and survivors are included in this.