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Lessons in domestic abuse for pupils, 11

Pupils as young as 11 are being given lessons on how to spot potentially violent partners early in a relationship.

SIGNS....Headteacher Mark Bocker wants to teach pupils

Pupils as young as 11 are being given lessons on how to spot potentially violent partners early in a relationship.

The programme, which was put together using notes written by men jailed for domestic violence, has been introduced at Oswaldtwistle school.

It has been welcomed by Hyndburn MP Graham Jones who said domestic violence in the borough had become a "big issue".

Some of the 65 youngsters, aged between 11 and 16, have been undergoing the six week programme to help them recognise violent and abusive partners.

The school is a short stay establishment catering for secondary age pupils who are permanently excluded or vulnerable to exclusion or who have moved into the area and need assessment pre-admission to schools.

Mark Bocker, head of Oswaldtwistle School, said: "It’s relationship education rather than domestic violence education but it’s in response to domestic violence.

"What we are doing with our girls is to dilute the adult programme, designed by the author Pat Craven who has written a book on domestic violence, and then simply talk about the relationship element of it.

"We are teaching them to recognise the signs of domestic violence.

"It’s like any other signs of bullying, you want them to recognise the signs first.

"We are not giving schoolgirls lessons on domestic violence or sexually abusive and violent boyfriends. It’s about positive relationship education. We are getting girls to recognise what signs of behaviour in a person could lead to violence. I think this should be rolled out across mainstream schools," he added.

A six-week programme is now being taught once a week at the Union Road-based school and aims to help girls spot ‘dominators’, men capable of domestic violence, within the first two weeks of a relationship.

They are told how abusive partners can shout, sulk and cut their partners off from their friends. The Freedom Programme can also be used to help men who wish to improve their behaviour.

Parts of the lessons are undertaken by boys at Oswaldtwistle School.

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones has supported the course and thinks women shouldn’t be subjected to "brutality". He said: "Domestic violence is a big issue particularly in this area.

The course is aiming to tackle that violence and if it reduces domestic violence, even by a small amount, then that’s a success."

He added: "Women should not be subject to brutality and aggression. Some children are forced to grow up quickly because they live in an awful environment so it’s good that from an early age they are helped to cope with issues of violence because it’s something they can see or experience everyday anyway.

"It’s important that girls are able to respond in a way that they lead better lives rather than all that violence which has been the norm."

Oswaldtwistle Conservative councillor Brian Walmsley said: "Some parents might not agree in teaching these sorts of things but I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t agree with a lot of sex education that’s taught in schools these days but I think this could be a good thing."

 
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