Make Healthy Relationships Part of the Curriculum
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It is estimated that domestic abuse will affect 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime (source).
This is a horrifying statistic, and one that is barely broached in PSHE lessons.
What's more, we don't talk about the number of young people that experience it. Many young people don't even realise that it can happen to them, and so dismiss it when it does.
Even younger teenagers are reaching the age where they are getting into relationships, but still don't know how to do so healthily. Education on consent is poor, if existent. Education on expectations is poor, if existent. And education on boundaries is poor, if existent. At such a key age, when still forming their personalities, young people can be damaged physically and mentally by their relationships. With a media that idolises and romanticises abusive traits, young people are bombarded by unrealistic and harmful examples.
A close friend of mine reached the age of 17 having only ever been in abusive relationships, starting at the age of 13. Not because she is a bad person, or because she asked for it in any way, but because she didn't know how to spot the “red flags”. She didn't know that it was okay to get out. And yet so many schools waste their PSHE hours on reminding students not to have underage sex they aren't taught what to do if it all turns dark, or even what dark looks like.
The education system can be criticised for failing to prepare students for so many things, but this one is particularly unforgivable. It does not take much to save young people from relationships that they don't even know are unhealthy, but it all starts at education.
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