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Bristol schools set to tackle domestic and sexual abuse

Launch of Bristol Ideal

The ground breaking ‘Bristol Ideal’ project,  which aims to work effectively with children and young people at school to prevent domestic and sexual violence in later years, is launched  today (28 March) by the Mayor, Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner, the Assistant Mayor for Education  and all four of the city’s MPs.

The Bristol Ideal (www.bristolideal.org.uk) is leading the way nationally by setting out guidance, lesson plans and support to ensure every Bristol School reaches a minimum standard to make a lasting impact on reducing the shocking domestic abuse figures that see an estimated fourteen thousand  women and girls become victims each year in the city. The project has been funded jointly by the Police and Crime Commissioner and Bristol City Council.

Bristol’s definition of domestic and sexual violence covers; domestic abuse, teen abuse, sexual violence, rape, sexual exploitation, sex trafficking, forced marriage, so called honour violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual harassment.

Mayor George Ferguson said, “Bristol has acquired an excellent reputation for our innovative work tackling domestic and sexual violence, particularly around FGM, but there is no room for complacency and much more can and must be done. Time and money is always best spent on prevention work and I’m delighted that this innovative project will do just that.”

Cllr Brenda Massey said, “Schools have many aspects of learning to cover but we want to support our schools to incorporate this learning as a core school activity. If done well, this could have quite amazing results in the future. It will take time of course, this is about changing culture and re-educating, but we are absolutely in it for the long run.”

The standards that schools can achieve include:

  • Formally timetabled, regular Relationships and Sex Education lessons for every year group as part of the curriculum.  As part of this learning, children and young people will:
    • understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships
    • understand that healthy relationships are based on empathy, negotiation, and respect
    • know about all forms of domestic and sexual abuse and about coercive and controlling relationships
  • Understand gendered violence as a cause and consequence of inequality.
  • Know where to go to report abuse.
  • Taking a whole-school approach to tackling domestic and sexual violence including having a specific school policy and a dedicated domestic abuse champion.
  • Sending staff on relevant training – which will be offered for free by the Bristol Ideal.
  • Ensuring that information about support services are available for pupils and staff, and that there is access to specialist support services for children and young people.

All Bristol head teachers will be provided a pack of guidance and resources that will enable schools to implement the actions simply and effectively. These will also be available online at the new website www.bristolideal.org.uk and will be sent direct to schools.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens  said: “We are fortunate to live in a world where we have access to information and have the ability to raise awareness of domestic and sexual violence towards women and children.

“I feel passionate that violence against any person is unacceptable. Having a set of standards in schools, working towards the common goal of showing that this behaviour will not be tolerated, is the best example we can set for our young people.”

This is not an excuse to rape me

A powerful publicity campaign which confronts the perception that women are often to blame for being raped has been launched across Bristol called ‘This is not an excuse to rape me’. The campaign includes billboards, bus stops, posters, leaflets and a website www.thisisnotanexcuse.org.uk. The campaign is also on twitter @noexcuseBristol.

The campaign is funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens.

The Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner said: “Rape and sexual assault is never the victim’s fault and that’s why tackling violence against women and children is one of my priorities in the police and crime plan”.

“There is some fantastic work being done to raise awareness of rape, encourage reporting and supporting victims but working together we will and can do more to challenge the attitudes some people have towards rape.”