Boy-girl relationships aren’t always matches made in heaven because research by the children’s charity, the NSPCC, has revealed that domestic abuse happens with children as young as 13.
Schools in South Holland, including Sir John Gleed, Spalding High and University Academy Holbeach, are among those delivering a new kind of lesson to their pupils – teaching them where to draw the line on abusive relationships.
Abuse includes controlling or coercive behaviour – such as jealous partners insisting on checking their boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s phone or facebook, telling them what to wear or who they are allowed to see.
It can also involve humiliation with constant put downs.
If such behaviour goes unchecked, and unhealthy relationships become the norm, it can lead to violence in the home in later life.
Healthy relationships consultant Naomi Watkins is working in partnership with Lincolnshire County Council to train teachers to deliver workshops to their pupils as well as talking directly to classes herself.
Naomi said: “You don’t want to be doing intervention because it’s too late then.
“Young people don’t know what’s right and wrong, sadly, and if they are not getting that information from their school they are getting it from the media or external things that are not correct.
“We are teaching them skills to recognise when a relationship isn’t healthy and how relationships should be.”
The workshops also teach girls, particularly, not to be pressured physically or emotionally blackmailed into sex acts before they are ready.
Teaching the basics of healthy relationships is now considered the key to calling time on the violent abuse that blights the lives of so many women in later life.
One in four women will suffer domestic abuse during their lifetime and two women a week die in the UK at the hands of abusive partners.
Naomi says statistics also show a woman will be assaulted an average of 35 times before she finally rings the police to ask for help.
She said: “With an adult woman, it takes them about seven times to leave because they leave and go back again.
“If we don’t do it (train children) now, we are never going to break that cycle.”
Boys suffer from abusive partners too, but it tends to be controlling or jealous behaviour rather than physical abuse.
“Some boys have said ‘she doesn’t want me talking to other girls’,” Naomi said.