Children targeted in domestic violence education

BOYS aged nine to 12 years old could be targeted in a Federal Government education campaign targeting domestic violence but an advocacy worker said children could start learning about respectful relationships much younger.

As part of the $30 million program to campaign against domestic violence, boys aged nine to 12, non English-speaking women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be among those targeted in the education campaign, News Ltd has reported.

Senator Michaelia Cash's office, who released this information as part of her role as Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, was unable to provide APN with more details on Monday.

But teaching school-aged children about the impacts of violence has already begun in schools.

Our Watch, an organisation that hopes to drive nation-wide change in the culture, behaviours and attitudes that lead to violence against women and children, is undertaking a similar program in Victorian schools.

They teach Year 8 and Year 9 classes about healthy relationships and gender equality.

Our Watch children and young people policy and projects manager Emily Maguire says children should start learning about gender and respect when they are 3-4 years old.

And she says it does not have to be anti-violence messages from the beginning. She said one example would be tickling.

For example, she said a parent could be tickling their child when the child says "Stop, stop".

A parent stopping immediately teaches the child that they have control of their bodies and can say no.

"Teaching kids those messages is an appropriate way to talk to kids about consent," Ms Maguire said.

She also said it was important for children from a young age to learn about gender equality, respect and power.

But in tackling the overall issue, Ms Maguire said we should not expect children to do it on their own.

"Just teaching children and young people about how to have respectful, ethical and safe relationships isn't enough," she said.

It also needs to be ingrained in schools and communities, she said, so the ideal behaviour is modelled.

Shadow Minister for Women Claire Moore criticised the Abbott Government yesterday, saying as a result of bungled grants through the Department of Social Services, which included funding cuts of more than $270 million, critical domestic violence support services that provided financial counselling had been cut.


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