Amid the ongoing COVID pandemic, schools and colleges have been adapting to new ways of teaching and supporting children and young people.
Understandably during the COVID pandemic, relationship education in schools has been placed on the back burner, however it is vital we bring attention to how important it is to continue educating young people about healthy relationships.
All young people should be entitled to high quality Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) so they can learn about control, consent and much more to help them throughout life.
Good quality RSE helps young people protect themselves against future abuse, exploitation, gaslighting and more. It is also vital that young people know how to spot the signs and how to seek help not only for their own relationships, but if they are witnessing abuse.
We spoke to a group of 25 women at one of Glow’s recovery centres about why they thought teaching the younger generation about relationship abuse was so important.
One of the women, Anna*, told us: “If kids have seen abuse in their parent’s relationships they need to know that they shouldn’t replicate it and it’s not a normal part of a relationship.
“It’s a vicious cycle otherwise and people aren’t aware of what actually makes a healthy relationship. If these things are happening around you growing up, they become normal, and you carry that with you.”
The majority of the women experienced abuse in their relationships at a young age. Beth* met her ex-partner when she was at school, and suffered 10 years of abuse.
“When you are younger, you think no one is ever going to believe you, and at the time I was 16 and my abuser told me that it was his word against mine and no one would ever believe me. He was a lot older so I believed him!”
Another woman, Natalie*, said: “Prevention is better than cure. Schools teach you maths, science and English but they never teach you about healthy relationships. If they did it would help to stop a lot of abuse and potentially save people’s lives.”
Beth* adds, “Kids in schools need to be told that it’s okay to speak out and that no matter what they say their allegations will be taken seriously. ”
All the women in the room agreed that if they had been taught about healthy relationships, they would have either left their partner earlier or never got into that relationship in the first place.
“I went into a relationship blank, I found someone who said they loved me and that was that, I went with it. If I had seen the warning signs beforehand, I would never have stayed in a relationship with that person.”