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Committee backs academic’s calls to enshrine education in violence bill

20 November 2014

Emma Renold

An influential group of AMs has backed calls from a Cardiff University academic to enshrine education and children's rights in law as part of a Bill to end gender-based violence in Wales.

Professor Emma Renold who leads the Gender and Sexualities Research Group in the School of Social Sciences has long maintained that provisions to make it compulsory for schools to address inter-personal violence and safe relationships have been notably absent from the Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill.

Based on her research into the views and experiences of pre-teen boys and girls growing up in a sexist society, Professor Renold has argued that without legislative change to ensure all school children and young people in Wales receive a relevant and comprehensive healthy relationships education, the cycle of gender and sexual violence in children's peer cultures will prevail.

The National Assembly for Wales' Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee has now called for theWelsh Government to make provisions in the Bill for it to be mandatory for schools to provide whole-school, age-appropriate education programmes on healthy relationships.

The Committee's report concluded: "One of the Committees' main concerns was the omission of education proposals within the Bill, given that education is the most crucial part of preventing gender-based violence. We also felt there was a lack of emphasis on the specific needs of children and young people who are at risk, or victims of domestic abuse and we believe this should be addressed."

Professor Renold's study 'Girls and Boys Speak Out: A Qualitative Study of Children's Gender and Sexual Cultures (age 10-12)' 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 of everyday sexism and sexual harassment, online and offline.

Professor Renold said: "I am encouraged to see the Committee's recommendation to place education, children's rights and children and young people's own experiences at the heart of this Bill. Without this a Bill designed to improve arrangements for the prevention of domestic abuse and sexual violence for people living in Wales, will fail. I now look forward to Stage 2 and will be working with children and young people across Wales to ensure they continue to have their voices heard via the WalesViolence Against Women Action Group."

The General Principles of the Bill will be debated by Assembly Members in the National Assembly for Wales on 25 November 2014, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls. On the same day, Professor Renold will be giving a keynote on the gendered dynamics of sexual cyber bullying to the Observatoire Régional des Violences Faites aux Femmes, the Regional Council of Paris in France's Observatory on Violence Against Women.

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