EU Agenda on the Rights of the Child must help young people living with domestic abuse

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Posted on 12 August 2011
Young people are being put at risk by a lack of basic support from schools and educational establishments against the most prolific human rights abuse: domestic violence.

Young people are being put at risk by a lack of basic support from schools and educational establishments against the most prolific human rights abuse: domestic violence.

Despite obligations imposed by the European Convention on Human Rights which requires all Member States to take preventative action to protect children’s physical integrity, a consensus has yet to emerge about what kinds of educational interventions are most effective.

Academic criminologist Professor David Gadd (Manchester University) and psychologist Claire Fox (Keele University) are leading a pioneering cycle of implementation, research evaluation, and development work to improve the quality of domestic abuse prevention initiatives for children and young people in Europe. The READAPT project is being conducted in association with partners from six European countries (UK, Spain, France, Malta, Belgium and Sweden).

According to the EU, approximately 200 million children worldwide witness domestic violence annually. Policy-makers are aware of the urgent need to engage with children and young people about how to best help them. As underlined in the Europe 2020 Strategy, the long-term effects of not investing enough in policies affecting children may have a profound impact on our societies.

“The EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child aims to protect children in vulnerable situations and we recommend that this strategy look more closely at domestic violence” reaffirms Professor David Gadd. “Relatively few young people grow up untouched by domestic abuse, whether as victims, perpetrators, witnesses or as supporters of friends and family who are also living with it. Many young people also find themselves confused by experiences of domestic abuse an unsure about how best to understand and respond to it. Providing domestic abuse education to young people in schools is the best hope we have of substantially reducing the problem for future generations”.

Over 50 schools involving over 2000 young people will take part in the research across the UK, Spain and France and that a further six secondary schools and approximately 450 children will benefit from the interventions that follow in Malta as part of the research. Teachers and educators located across will also be engaged with the project.


Note to editors:

Launched in January 2011, READAPT is Relationship Education and Domestic Abuse Prevention Tuition, the latest Daphne III project, part funded by the European Commission. The project aims to establish how best to support and enhance the resilience of young people, so they are able to cope with the effects of domestic violence.

The READAPT project is committed to helping children come to terms with domestic violence,  whether that violence is perpetrated by a parent or step-parent, or occurs in the context of their own dating relationships. It seeks to help build children’s resilience so that they can build healthy relationships for themselves in adult life. The project involves a coalition of seven partners across six European countries.

The project is led by academic criminologist Professor David Gadd, psychologists Dr Claire Fox and Becky Hale at Keele University, in collaboration with social work Professor Margareta Hydén at the University of Linköping. This academic team are supporting three grassroots projects that are currently delivering domestic abuse prevention work with children and young people. These projects include:
• Relationships without Fear, being delivered by a charity ‘ARCH North Staffs’ in the UK
• The Masks of Love delivered by The Directorate General for Combating Violence and Juvenil Reform in Murcia, Spain
• Lets go for Equality delivered by a NGO ‘Du Côté des Femmes de Haute Garonne’, in Toulouse, France

These partners are working closely with MRDDF – the Malta Regional Development and Dialogue Foundation – to establish new countrywide provision in Malta. They are also supported by the Brussels-based not for profit organisation, the West Midlands European Centre, who are assisting with the dissemination of the results of the READAPT project on a Europe-wide scale. In addition to academic publications, the project will produce a resource kit for educators seeking to establish their own preventative education initiatives and a toolkit for researchers looking to evaluate relationship education programmes.