Report suggests teaching children about healthy relationships

It is recommended that children receive education on “healthy, respectful relationships” starting at a young age.

The newly introduced Stormont framework on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG) recognizes the importance of educating children about healthy relationships as a crucial step in addressing the issue.

Additionally, it emphasized the importance of engaging young individuals in the process of designing novel relationships and sex education (RSE) programs tailored for schools.

Currently, Northern Ireland stands as the sole region within the United Kingdom lacking a dedicated strategy focused on ending violence against women and girls (EVAWG).

In 2021, the Stormont Executive initially proposed the development of a protective strategy aimed at safeguarding women and girls in Northern Ireland from acts of violence.

The Executive Office has recently released a “strategic framework” and an initial action plan for consultation purposes.

The objective of the framework is to strive towards creating a transformed society in which women and girls are liberated from all manifestations of gender-based violence, abuse, and harm.

In her introduction to the framework, Jayne Brady, the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, acknowledged that eradicating violence against women and girls stands as “one of the most complex obstacles our society currently confronts.” She further emphasized that addressing this issue is of utmost significance.

The action plan characterizes violence against women and girls as encompassing a spectrum that extends from pervasive misogynistic attitudes and detrimental social norms to distressing unwanted behaviors and severe criminal offenses. It recognizes that these manifestations are merely the visible “tip of the iceberg.”

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According to the action plan, while acknowledging that these acts are predominantly perpetrated by men, it also recognized that they are not exclusively committed by them.

Furthermore, the plan highlighted that a significant amount of abuse and harm remains unreported, meaning that the reported cases represent only a fraction of the overall issue, often referred to as “the tip of the iceberg.”

Within the first year of the plan, there are a total of 22 recommended actions. One of these actions involves establishing a forum to determine the most effective approach to educate young people about healthy and respectful relationships, particularly within the context of Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in schools.

Several recent reports have expressed criticism regarding certain aspects of the approach to Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in Northern Ireland.

In a prior consultation regarding the EVAWG strategy, it was recommended that modifications to Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) be included as part of the overall strategy.

Additionally, the action plan encompasses preliminary efforts to address violence against women and girls within higher and further education, workplaces, and the hospitality sector.

The findings suggested conducting an analysis of frontline services to enhance support for victims, with a particular focus on increasing victims’ confidence in the justice system.

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