Children report domestic abuse as Bolton nine-year-olds learn about issue at school
PRIMARY school pupils in Bolton are being given lessons on domestic abuse — with some youngsters then reporting abuse to teachers after the special sessions.
More than 1,200 children from 35 local primary schools and four secondary schools have so far attended four one-hour lessons — run by Bolton refuge Fortalice and part-funded funded by Bolton Council.
The Healthy Relationships Project has been attended by children as young as nine and during the sessions, youngsters have so far reported 12 incidents of domestic abuse.
Youngsters are taught about men and women being equal. They are also schooled on the effects of emotional abuse as well as physical abuse.
Fortalice operates Bolton’s refuge accommodation, Lewis House, and front-line services for women and children fleeing domestic violence.
Director of services Gill Smallwood said: “We believe that talking to children and helping them learn about healthy relationships early is definitely the way forward.”
The sessions were run by Fortalice’s Children and Young People’s services — professionals experienced in dealing with youngsters of all ages and who incorporate educational training. The response from staff and pupils for the ongoing programme has so far been positive.
A spokesman for The Ferns Academy — formerly Plodder Lane Primary School — in Farnworth said: “The project has given the children an improved understanding of how different relationships affect others.
“They have been able to co-operate and understand the value of teamwork.
“There has been some evidence of them starting to take responsibility over their own actions.”
One pupil from The Ferns said: “I learned lots of different things such as caring, everyone’s equal, and that just by calling people names it can hurt their feelings.”
A year 10 pupil from Ladybridge School said: “I have learned that some people can cover up their scars but they still can be hurting on the inside and they can get help.”
The project has enough sponsorship for the next academic year.
After funding runs out, it is hoped schools will fund the work themselves — with some schools delivering their own programme after further input from Fortalice.
Fortalice also evaluated and monitored the programme’s effectiveness.Mrs Smallwood said: “The response to the project was excellent. We have monitored the changes in the pupils’ attitudes to healthy relationships since and this has changed from 53 per cent to 93 per cent.”
The lessons are funded by the council’s neighbourhood managers fund and the Amy Leigh Barnes Foundation which was set up in 2009 in memory of 19 year-old Amy who was murdered in Farnworth by her boyfriend.
An e-learning programme is also to be developed when funding is found. Fortalice will also be working in partnership with Bolton College’s drama department to produce a DVD that can be used for training in all aspects of educating children, pupils and students about healthy relationships.
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