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One in five children in the UK will have experienced domestic abuse by the time they reach 18. This means that all staff, including non-education staff, are in unique positions to support children and young people experiencing domestic abuse and ensure they are safeguarded.
As a result of the COVID-19 lockdown measures, children and young people experiencing domestic abuse are at increased levels of risk. They were recognised in Scottish Government guidance as a vulnerable group who may need to attend school in person during lockdown.
Domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviour that instils fear and is used by abusers to maintain control. Measures taken to address the pandemic, including lockdown, closure of schools, working from home and reductions in the work of courts, provide additional tools for abusers to exercise that control. This increases the risk to children and young people, removing opportunities for them to seek help and support both from their own networks and from specialist services.
Role of the adults in schools
- Education settings are often the only place children and young people experiencing domestic abuse can feel safe.
- A listening, trusted adult can make it easier for a child to disclose.
- Education practitioners can challenge gender-based violence by promoting an ethos and culture of equality throughout the curriculum and the whole school experience.
- Harmful norms and stereotypes need to be challenged and healthy, positive and supportive relationships need to be promoted.
- Awareness raising of domestic abuse with both staff and learners is important.
- To what extent do our staff have awareness of the range of behaviours and impacts related to domestic abuse?
- To what extent do our staff have clarity on possible indicators that a young person is experiencing domestic abuse?
- What approaches might help develop a whole school approach to preventing gender based violence?