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Domestic abuse Bill ‘doesn’t go far enough’

23 September 2014

Dr Emma Renold

A leading Cardiff University academic will argue this week that the Welsh Government's Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Bill designed to improve arrangements for the prevention of domestic abuse and sexual violence will fail if it doesn't place education, children's rights and children and young people's own experiences at its heart.

Emma Renold, Professor in Childhood Studies at the University's School of Social Sciences, will use a briefing to AMs to argue that without legislative change that ensures all school children and young people in Wales receive comprehensive education to address daily experiences of inter-personal sexual harassment, the cycle of gender and sexual violence in children's peer cultures will prevail.

"While I welcome the Bill's key aim to improve arrangements for the prevention of gender-based violence and domestic abuse, I am concerned that the proposals to ensure that education addressing inter-personal violence and safe relationships via a mandatory whole-school approach is delivered to all children and young people, is notably absent", says Professor Renold.

"This absence is all the more urgent and concerning in light of our recent research findings that pre-teen children (aged 10-12) growing up in Wales report increasingly compulsory boyfriend-girlfriend cultures in which gender-based forms of conflict, coercion and control are seen by children as an inevitable component of young relationships and common place.

"Prevention, pedagogy and policy in this area is fundamental to addressing the realities of children's early relationship cultures at the age of 10,11 and 12. Indeed it is vital that preventative education and policy does not solely consider gender-based violence and harassment as something which only affects children's 'future relationships' in adolescence and beyond.

"It is imperative that the 3 P's are included in this Bill if the legislation is going to deliver what the Welsh Government hopes and intends. Without legislative change, children's experiences of coercion, control and harassment in their pre-teen relationship cultures will remain hidden and inevitably endure."

Professor Renold will draw on findings from her study 'Boys Speak Out: A Qualitative Study of Children's Gender and Sexual Cultures (age 10-12)', which is the first study of its kind. It details in their own words, the views and experiences of pre-teen boys and girls growing up in a sexist society, and addresses the absence of young people's own experiences in public concern and media debates surrounding sexism and harassment.

Professor Emma Renold leads the Gender and Sexualities Research Group in Cardiff University's School of Social Sciences.

The briefing took place on Tuesday 23rd September at the National Assembly for Wales.

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