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Rethinking Domestic Abuse in Doncaster’

Olivia Maltby, young peoples research

Doncaster teens call for better domestic abuse education

- ‘Stop sugar coating the effects of domestic abuse,’ say youngsters - 

Young people in Doncaster want better and more education about domestic abuse, research by Doncaster Children’s Services Trust has revealed.

Over two thirds (68%) of the 13-19-year-olds surveyed said they would not know how to access help if they or someone they knew was experiencing domestic abuse.

Yet the majority (86.6%) said they would take action to help someone in need if they knew how to.

Over two-thirds of interviewees stated they had received no domestic abuse education in school, and almost all (95%) felt they had never received adequate education about the issue.

The Trust commissioned the research, entitled ‘Rethinking Domestic Abuse in Doncaster,’ as part of its pioneering Growing Futures programme, a £3.1m Department for Education-funded project to reduce the harmful effects of domestic abuse on children.

The survey was conducted in partnership with Club Doncaster Foundation during the National Citizen Service (NCS) course – a national voluntary personal and social development programme for young people.

225 young people living in Doncaster took part in the NSC, which also included workshops to develop awareness-raising campaigns about domestic abuse.

Paul Moffat, the Trust’s CEO, said: “Growing Futures has developed a completely new way of working with children and families affected by domestic abuse, to address the disproportionately high levels of this damaging behaviour.”

“The research project was a unique and valuable opportunity to work with local young people to help them recognise and respond to domestic abuse, while also beginning to understand their attitudes and experiences of it. It’s essential we really understand the problem in Doncaster at this level, if we are going to truly help young people build resilience in the future.”

“This is a long-term strategy to tackle intergenerational abuse, and we want to encourage parents, as well as everyone involved in young people’s lives, to talk about positive relationships.”  

When asked what had been ineffective about domestic abuse education, the young people said: ‘there wasn’t enough’, ‘it didn’t explain how it’s not just physical abuse’, and ‘it sugar-coated the effects of domestic abuse’.

Respondents emphasised the need to begin talking about it explicitly. Their responses included: ‘actually talking about it would be a start,’ and ‘it’s just an issue that gets pushed aside too often.’

They also raised the need to explain to young people that ‘domestic abuse isn’t just about hitting,’ that ‘men can be victims of domestic abuse too,’ and that it’s ‘alright to think your parents are not being good.’

Over half the parents thought their children did not know enough about domestic abuse, but over two-thirds had never discussed it with their children, preferring experts to teach it.

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