Domestic abuse – and how it can be stopped

The Bolton News: Rivington and Blackrod pupils Hannah Elliott and Josh Wilks, both aged 14, and Lucy Cornwell, aged 15, look at an image at the conference Rivington and Blackrod pupils Hannah Elliott and Josh Wilks, both aged 14, and Lucy Cornwell, aged 15, look at an image at the conference

TEENAGERS killed by their partners were remembered during Bolton’s first Teenager Domestic Abuse Conference.

The name of 19-year-old Amy Leigh Barnes, from Farnworth, who died of multiple stab wounds inflicted by her partner, along with other young victims of domestic violence, was read out at the day-long event.

The conference was held to educate children about the warning signs of entering an abusive relationship and the help available.

Teenagers were told that “no one expects to go into an abusive relationship — they find themselves in that situation” and that abusive behaviour was “never acceptable”.

A survey found that 16 to 19-year-olds was the group most likely to suffer abuse from a partner, with 12.7 per cent of women and 6.2 per cent of men in this age group affected. The Government has now put forward funding to tackle the issue through education and support.

The conference was hosted at the Essa Academy in Great Lever and delivered by Fortalice, the Bolton charity for women and children affected by domestic abuse, which runs a Healthy Relationships Project in schools.

Teenage pupils from Rivington and Blackrod High in Horwich, Canon Slade in Bradshaw, Ladybridge High School and Harper Green School in Farnworth also attended the conference.

Young people were educated in recognising the early signs of abuse and the characteristics of a healthy relationship.

They took part in workshops in which they were asked to spot abusive and controlling behaviours, find out about the support services available for young people, had a look at healthy relationships and explored reasons why people stay in unhealthy relationships.

Gill Smallwood, director of services at Fortalice, said: “We are working with young people to educate them about positive relationships at a time in their lives when they should be able to recognise what is and isn’t an acceptable relationship. We are working with academies such as Essa and local schools and colleges to ensure young people can keep themselves safe and have an understanding of what is positive behaviour.

“Our aim is that we can change behaviour that will reduce cases of domestic abuse in the foreseeable future and in the long term.

“All our studies and research show that this is a positive way to work with children and young people to break cycles of abuse.

“We already know from what we have done so far that our message is having a positive impact on some children’s behaviour in the classroom.”

The seminar ended with a powerful play staged by Bolton College students which highlighted the subtle signs of abusive and controlling relationships.

One pupil from Rivington and Blackrod High School, Hannah Elliot, aged 14, said: “The conference has been an eye opener in showing the early signs of an controlling abusive relationship. It has been a very important conference and we will pass on the message in school.”

Demi Floyd, also aged 14, added: “The percentage of young people involved in an abusive relationship is quite worrying.”

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