Domestic abuse prevention programmes able to have a positive impact on children's attitudes toward violence

January 23, 2013

A team of researchers has shown that domestic abuse prevention programmes are able to have a positive impact on secondary school children's attitudes to violence.

Principle investigator Professor David Gadd, from The University of Manchester,  says the research bolsters calls for Governments to incorporate 'relationship education' into the school curriculum.

The 'REaDAPt' project, which studied 2,395 at programmes in England, France and Spain, has also produced a 180 page toolkit for teachers on tackling the subject.

The toolkit will strengthen efforts to deal with among school-age children.

in European countries as diverse as the UK, Spain, Sweden, Malta and Germany  - are two or more times as likely to be victims as .

According to the researchers, many young people, especially boys, believe it is acceptable to hit their partner.

However, the European Union funded project found that can change attitudes in the space of a few weeks.

to the children in each of the countries revealed the programmes improved their attitudes towards domestic violence – especially in England and Spain.

The video will load shortly
ReAdapt toolkit. Through a Child's Eyes.

Professor Gadd said: "We now know that domestic abuse prevention programmes can have a positive impact on the attitudes of young people.

"So the challenge is to encourage governments to incorporate this across the mainstream curriculum and build a workable infrastructure at every secondary school-age year.

"Rather than confining relationship education to special sessions that are tangential to the assessed curriculum, geography or maths, for example, could tackle domestic abuse prevalence in different parts of the world, and the experience of victims could be appropriate for literature or even music classes.

"So this is really a question of finding a way to build capacity, so that we can tackle one of the most serious problems facing young people today."

A moving film called Through a Child's Eyes, where a young boy talks about his experience of witnessing his father being violent towards his mother through pictures he has drawn, has been refashioned by the project so that young people can share it via YouTube with their teachers and schools.

Professor Gadd added: "Appraising young people about the risks of domestic abuse in intimate relationships and the nature of domestic abuse is crucial to any strategy to seriously reduce the prevalence of gender -based violence in .

"It is critical that evidence-based materials are provided to schools and teachers and educators. It is also important that teachers and educators are fully supported in providing relationship education and domestic abuse prevention tuition.

"However, a top-down, standardised approach from Government won't work: teachers need to know what their class is thinking before they teach them.

"And they must be supported in developing the skills and confidence needed to innovate and evaluate what they do.

"This has to involve seeking out young people's perspectives on the content and delivery of relationship education and prevention tuition, and asking how they would improve it."

Other key findings of the project include:

  • Preventative programmes are most effective at changing attitudes if delivered over a number of weeks.
  • Relationship education programmes do not always succeed in encouraging young people to seek help from adults and must therefore identify a range of means by which young people can seek support and advice.  
  • Educators must address tensions between promoting gender equality and depicting violence as a gendered phenomenon.
  • Educators must also address tensions between encouraging young people to express their own perceptions and the need to challenge sexist stereotypes and victim blaming.

Explore further: Youth violence declining in UK

More information: A graph showing the successful impact of the preventative programmes is available at

Related Stories

Youth violence declining in UK

December 4, 2012
Physical violence among young people is on the decline overall in nearly thirty countries including the UK, according to a new international study involving researchers from the University of Hertfordshire.

Study: People with mental disorders more likely to have experienced domestic violence

December 26, 2012
Men and women with mental health disorders, across all diagnoses, are more likely to have experienced domestic violence than the general population, according to new research from King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, ...

When battered women fight back stereotyping can kick in

September 12, 2012
The topic of domestic abuse remains a controversial issue when it comes to determining punishment for battered women who use violence towards their partner. According to a recent study published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, ...

Recommended for you

Sugar not so sweet for mental health

July 27, 2017
Sugar may be bad not only for your teeth and your waistline, but also your mental health, claimed a study Thursday that was met with scepticism by other experts.

Could insufficient sleep be adding centimeters to your waistline?

July 27, 2017
Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, according to a new study.

Vitamin E-deficient embryos are cognitively impaired even after diet improves

July 27, 2017
Zebrafish deficient in vitamin E produce offspring beset by behavioral impairment and metabolic problems, new research at Oregon State University shows.

The role of dosage in assessing risk of hormone therapy for menopause

July 27, 2017
When it comes to assessing the risk of estrogen therapy for menopause, how the therapy is delivered—taking a pill versus wearing a patch on one's skin—doesn't affect risk or benefit, researchers at UCLA and elsewhere ...

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

July 26, 2017
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn't, a new study found.

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.