Can talking make a difference?

I’m just starting a fascinating but challenging project to design materials for use in schools to aid discussion about violence against women and girls. The resource pack has been developed by young people for young people supported by staff from Off The Record, a local counselling and support service.

The intro to the pack lists some of the findings from a recent survey by the NSPCC and Bristol University. It discovered:

  • a third of teenage girls have experienced sexual partner violence
  • a quarter of girls have experienced physical partner violence
  • three-quarters of girls have experienced emotional partner violence.

There is a range of evidence which indicates young people do not feel they are given sufficient information about sex, relationships, and violence. Which is hopefully where this resource pack will come in. The aim is that by opening up frank discussions with teenagers about violence against women and girls (domestic abuse, sexual harrasment, pornography, trafficking), we can change attitudes and behaviours.

I know women who have suffered domestic violence and I’ve been wondering whether things would have been different if they’d had the chance to talk about these kinds of issues in the classroom. I’m not sure it’s that easy. But we’ve got to try. And if we can help just one girl or young woman avoid a violent relationship as a result of this project, surely it’s been worth the effort?

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