Schools to teach teens how to recognise domestic violence

TEENAGERS will be taught how to recognise domestic violence and seek help, when the issue is incorporated into the school curriculum from next year, the state government has announced.

It follows the campaigning of a young teenage girl, Rachel, whose mother committed suicide in March after years of suffering abuse. 

The syllabus for the personal development, health and physical education subject, taught to years 7 to 10 students, would be updated to explicitly include domestic violence prevention from term one next year, Education Minister Adrian Piccoli and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward said.

Soon after her mother’s death, Rachel, 14, began a petition on Change.org, saying: ‘‘I didnt [sic] know that what happened in my home was different to any other family home, as a child how could I have known any better?’’

It attracted more than 100,000 signatures and led other children affected by domestic violence to contact her, inspiring her to write to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Premier Mike Baird on May 1 to implore that students be taught about the issue.

‘‘Maybe I could have gotten help and saved my mum,’’ she told the two leaders.

Two months on, Ms Goward, who met with Rachel, said: “I have heard first hand that young people want to learn how to recognise and respond to abuse in relationships that may occur in their homes.’’

“Through this update to the syllabus, schools can provide a significant platform for helping young people to identify, report and protect themselves and others from abuse,’’ she said.

The Board of Studies, Teaching and Education Standards endorsed the change on June 23.

Anti-domestic violence advocates have also called for the issue of family violence specifically to be taught, where the current syllabus provision is for teaching children about ‘‘respectful relationships’’.

Mr Piccoli said including a reference to domestic violence in the syllabus ‘‘supports existing opportunities for students to learn about positive relationships’’.

For crisis support contact Lifeline 13 11 14

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