Transforming the response to domestic abuse

Closes 31 May 2018

Educating young people on relationships

As our Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy sets out, prevention and early intervention remain the foundations of our approach to tackling violence, and we will apply the same principle to domestic abuse more generally. In order to achieve this, we have to challenge the acceptability of violence and abusive behaviour and address underlying gender norms.

“To be honest, I never knew there were services that could support you and help people in my situation. Because to us, for me, it’s like a normal thing: I’ve seen my grandmother, my aunties, my mother going through all that... people just think that is the way it is, that is the way that it’s supposed to be. They don’t know that there are organisations or people that can help me.” [1]

“I suppose although I knew the signs from seeing my mam go through abuse, the signs were different for me and more importantly I didn’t think it would happen to me" [2]

We recognise that if we are to meaningfully address attitudes we need to engage with young people at the earliest possible stage. Too many young people witness domestic abuse in their homes and this can impact on their behaviour and relationships.

Case Study: Teenage Relationship Abuse Campaign

In the last year, we have provided £3 million for the ‘Disrespect NoBody’ teenage relationship abuse campaign, designed to educate teenagers about different types of abusive behaviour[3]

The Disrespect NoBody campaign helps young people to understand what a healthy relationship is, to re-think their views on controlling behaviour, violence, abuse, sexual abuse and what consent means within their relationships.

It aims to prevent the onset of domestic abuse in adults by challenging attitudes and behaviours amongst teenage boys and girls that abuse in relationships is acceptable. The campaign directs them to places for help and advice.

We want to help all schools  deliver high-quality Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education so that all young people are equipped to have healthy and respectful relationships, and leave school with the knowledge to prepare them for adult life.

“Well, obviously I went into here not knowing what was right and wrong in a relationship. …so everything he once said to me I thought ‘well yeah, that’s ok, he’s allowed to say that’… And ‘oh he’s done this’, I took it because we’re together and stuff like that.” [4]

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 places a duty on the Secretary of State for Education to make Relationship Education at primary and RSE at secondary school mandatory in England through regulations.

The Act also provides a power for the Secretary of State to make PSHE, or elements therein, mandatory in all schools in England in the future and subject to careful consideration.

The Department for Education has been conducting a thorough engagement process on the scope and content of Relationship Education and RSE, involving a wide range of interested partners. This included a public call for evidence, which was open between 19 December 2017 and 12 February 2018.

From this, they will develop the regulations and accompanying statutory guidance for these subjects and both will be subject to public consultation England.


[1] SafeLives (2017). Your choice: ‘honour’-based violence, forced marriage and domestic abuse. Unpublished.

[2] SafeLives (2017). Spotlight on young people and domestic abuse.


[4] SafeLives (2017). Spotlight on young people and domestic abuse.

6. In addition to the changes being made to how relationship education will be taught in schools, what else can be done to help children and young people learn about positive relationships and educate them about abuse?