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

January 23, 2013, University of Manchester

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.

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

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...


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.