Domestic violence to be addressed in school lessons

All school children will receive lessons on gender equality and domestic violence from 2011

All school children in England will receive lessons in gender equality as part of a government campaign to tackle domestic violence, it has been announced.

From 2011, lessons on equality and domestic violence will be included in the statutory personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education curriculum.

Two helplines will also be set up to deal with sexual violence and stalking and harassment. Around a million women are victims of at least one domestic violence incident a year, according to the British Crime survey.

The schools minister, Vernon Coaker, said the lessons would be tailored to the age group being taught.

"The appropriateness of what you do with someone who is five years old is totally different in terms of content and how you will be taught to someone who is 15 or 16," he said.

"You can teach (younger children) about not bullying people and how names can hurt people."

Lisa King, director of communications at the charity Refuge, welcomed the government's plans but said there was an "urgent need" to provide more services for abused women and children.

"One in three authorities still do not provide such services... a woman might have to move a long distance to find the support she needs.

"Councils should be required by law to provide a range of services to victims of domestic violence and abuse and the government should put the necessary funding in place," she said.

Margaret Morrissey, of the Parents Outloud campaign, warned that using school time for the lessons would hinder children's progress in academic subjects.

She said: "The Government should stop interfering with parents bringing up their children and focus on teaching children to read, write and all those things they need to get a career."


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