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To want to find a way to teach children not to end up in abusive relationships?

(37 Posts)
number1wang Tue 13-Jun-17 07:49:33

I find it upsetting that domestic abuse (emotional and financial as well as physical) is so common. I am also interested that there is evidence that potential terrorists are more likely to be abusive in their personal relationships.

MN seems to be full of (largely) women who have ended up in situations where they themselves would never have foreseen it or thought it could possibly happen to them. Some women may have grown up in a "normal" household with a good parental relationship as a model so clearly that's not enough to stop the problem.

Before anyone says it, I understand very well that the problem is not confined to abuse against women, although it's obviously more common. Those of us with sons would no more want to see this happen to them than to our daughters. However I also want to know how we can stop our sons and daughters from becoming abusive.

The problem as I see it is that teaching children to recognise an abusive relationship is a good start but is only half the story. Abusers don't always display a set of warning flags at the outset. Once abuse has started happening, it seems that victims struggle to square what's being done to them with the person they fell in love with.

How do we bring kids up to prevent them ending up in an abusive relationship, or indeed from becoming abusive themselves?
Should teenagers all be made to do the Freedom Programme?

Passmethecrisps Tue 13-Jun-17 07:54:59

I quite agree with you OP. If it makes you feel any better I teach Relationships and Sex Education to secondary school pupils and recognising what good and bad relationships look like is the main focus.

LittleLionMansMummy Tue 13-Jun-17 07:58:14

Sadly abusers don't come with a neon sign so by the time someone is subjected to abuse they have already been groomed into dependence. It's a very complicated process and often it's too late by the time friends and family see what's happening.

Passmethecrisps Tue 13-Jun-17 08:48:35

Extremely good point, littlion. It is extremely sad to be teaching about recognising positive relationships to discover that some of our teens have little or no experience of it. And what a young person understands in theory can be very different to what they are able to practice in real life.

Passmethecrisps Tue 13-Jun-17 09:06:15

Extremely good point, littlion. It is extremely sad to be teaching about recognising positive relationships to discover that some of our teens have little or no experience of it. And what a young person understands in theory can be very different to what they are able to practice in real life.

temporaryfiles Tue 13-Jun-17 09:14:39

That's interesting, crisp. What do you teach about relationships exactly? Its so so important to teach children about what is and isn't acceptable / boundaries and how to ensure they keep themselves safe, and what to do if they do find themselves in an abusive relationship.

I feel quite passionate about this!

Passmethecrisps Tue 13-Jun-17 09:28:49

Well we start by looking at all the different kinds of relationships we have then consider what is good and maybe could be better about one specific relationship. So they are encouraged to think about relationships in a wider context and what they bring to them.
We talk about power in relationships and the difference between aggression, passivity and assertiveness.
Sexual language and how it differs to language used to describe positive relationships. Why that matters and how to identify whether a relationship is at the stage where adding sex would be a positive step or not.

That is it pretty much but we also have units separate to this where we talk about domestic violence, how relationships can be used negatively, power based relationships and the like.
This is in units between S1 and S4. It is based on the Dutch method is Relationships and Sex Ed. But watered down

Girlwhowearsglasses Tue 13-Jun-17 09:42:01

That sounds really useful passmethecrisps - and also I think that we all need education and to be able to recognise this in our friends and relatives if they are in this kind of relationship. If young adults can see what is happening and recognise it in their peers and support each other too.

Jellycatspyjamas Tue 13-Jun-17 09:44:19

I think helping children develop a good sense of self, building their self esteem and self acceptance will help them avoid people who might treat them badly.

bruffian Tue 13-Jun-17 09:45:29

teach girls to grow up challenging injustice. Get girls into sport at a young age so they grow up with healthy self esteem. Point out abusive behaviour if you see it.

ElspethFlashman Tue 13-Jun-17 09:46:47

I learnt it from my Dad.

Not from what he said, but what he did....or didn't do.

He never called me names or got personal. He was never contemptuous of me. He never pushed or shoved me. He never laughed AT me.

Instead he was only ever proud of my meagre efforts. He told me I had a great personality and was a good looking girl. He used to say "you're as good as the best of them, love!"

He was an excellent housekeeper and did cooking and laundry. He wasn't tight with money.

So when I started dating any time I met an anomaly I recognised it and recoiled. I knew it wasn't the way all men were. So why should I take it? I was a catch!

Ecclesiastes Tue 13-Jun-17 09:58:39

teach girls to grow up challenging injustice

Even more important to teach boys to challenge injustice...

Don't make abuse yet another problem for girls and women to solve.

temporaryfiles Tue 13-Jun-17 10:05:19

That's really good, Crisp.

I have been wondering for ages if this sort of stuff was being taught to children in school.

Is it part of the curriculum? Does every school do this?

I was brought up with an abusive father (physical, emotional and financial). I ended up in exactly the same relationship, and so have my two female siblings. I have got out of that relationship, sadly my sisters have not.

I think if we'd have had some education about this back in the may have helped us realise that these abusive relationships are not normal.

Passmethecrisps Tue 13-Jun-17 10:26:49

This is part of the Scottish curriculum within Health and Wellbeing so all schools should be doing something along these lines. We do it quite explicitly but it theoretically can be delivered within other core subjects.
It starts in P1 with sense of self stuff and then keeps on going until they are 16.

We also have to cover issues such as gender inequality within the RMPS curriculum

temporaryfiles Tue 13-Jun-17 10:29:48

How effective do you think it is, Crisp? Do the children engage / are they interested?

Do your teachings sometimes uncover abusive relationships that the children may be involved in?

IHeartDodo Tue 13-Jun-17 10:36:17

That's lovely smile
If only everyone were as lucky!

number1wang Tue 13-Jun-17 13:58:04

I am really interested to hear about the work that crisps and others are doing in schools and really sad to hear that it's especially needed if many kids don't even have positive relationship role models at home.

I was thinking about the recent storyline on the Archers but obviously most teenagers don't listen to it, so maybe some other mainstream entertainment could get on board and have a storyline showing the gradual evolution of an EA relationship? Maybe it's already been done - I'm not very up to date with teenage viewing habits!

temporaryfiles Tue 13-Jun-17 13:58:55

I think Corrie is doing a storyline about a girl getting into an abusive relationship...

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 13-Jun-17 14:02:40

I really like this video about teaching consent.

number1wang Tue 13-Jun-17 14:11:26

Oh yes I have heard about the Corrie one. Did that storyline start with verbal/emotional abuse (say insults, gaslighting, ignoring) before it got on to the sexual?

temporaryfiles Tue 13-Jun-17 14:17:10

I don't watch corrie, but have heard that this storyline is particularly horrendous...

Good that it's being highlighted though. The more about this in the media the better.

The likes of Chris Brown and Tyson make my blood curdle.

LittleLionMansMummy Tue 13-Jun-17 14:23:29

Even more important to teachboysto challenge injustice

^^Absolutely this.

Parents of boys have so much responsibility in this respect. I am a mum of both a boy and a girl. As they grow older, boys can become more domineering if left unchallenged and can easily slip into things due to peer pressure. I doubt that what I or dh say to each of them will differ much, but the way society treats them both differs considerably and that is what parents of both boys and girls are up against. I'm doing my best to raise a boy who will challenge those societal norms and fight injustice but it often feels like a tall order. Dd is still a baby. I worry about them both but for different reasons.

Unfortunately I think much of what prevents someone getting into a bad relationship or helps them recognise that they're in one is life experience and being exposed to a wide range of scenarios over years. Our young girls are most vulnerable in this respect, particularly teenagers who think they know it all, are streetwise and could cope if it happened to them. Many of them just will not recognise it. Corrie's Bethany Platt storyline is actually a very good example of this. They underestimate the amount of head fuckery that these bastards are capable of.

SovietKitsch Tue 13-Jun-17 14:24:54

I disagree that abusers or potential abusers don't come with red flags - very often they do. We just need to teach children what those red flags are. I only know with the benefit (detriment?!) of hindsight what to look out for, but I would always advise people to watch how someone (for example) treats waiting staff in a restaurant - if they're dismissive and rude, you may have a problem.

VestalVirgin Tue 13-Jun-17 14:25:48

Obviously, growing up with good parents helps a lot.

Other than that, I also think making it just normal for girls to have boundaries helps.

If they consider it a matter of course that they have a separate bank account, never depend financially on a man, etc, then abusive relationships can still happen, but getting out of them is a lot easier.

Also, principles.
That's something that could be taught at school: If someone hits you, no matter the reason, you leave. You just leave, and there is NO alternative to that, you cannot ever stay with someone who raised his hand against you.

If you just have some fuzzy notion of "That doesn't feel quite right, but I want to make this relationship work", you can be manipulated to tolerate worse and worse as time progresses.

Having a couple of things that cannot be tolerated, ever, helps with setting boundaries.

I am not sure about teaching the more subtle red flags to both sexes at school. Abusers might use the information to disguise their abusiveness better.
(Is it just that I never found it, or isn't there much research on abusers? Some are so clever about it, you might think they learnt it somewhere.)

VestalVirgin Tue 13-Jun-17 14:29:46

I only know with the benefit (detriment?!) of hindsight what to look out for, but I would always advise people to watch how someone (for example) treats waiting staff in a restaurant - if they're dismissive and rude, you may have a problem.

See, that's where I see a potential problem.

Abusive people don't consider waiting staff as real humans, I suppose, so it would not enter their mind that someone could be appalled by their behaviour towards waiting staff.

But if you teach this at school: "Hey, treating waiting staff badly is a warning sign", then they'll still not have any empathy for waiting staff, but will know to make sure no one witnesses their behaviour.

A more general "Listen to your intuition" instruction would be better - any normal person would feel appalled by someone being rude to the waitress, etc.

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