The seventh National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence is on Friday 17th March.
This is a great opportunity for schools to share their anti-bullying policies, strategies and programs. All Australian schools are invited to register and join the nationwide movement to say ‘Bullying. No Way!’

So how are violence prevention and schools linked? It is has been recognised for some time now that one of the most important populations among whom violence prevention efforts can be implemented is children and young people.

This is an edited extract from Flood, Fergus and Heenan (2009), who note that in order to prevent violence in relationships and families, there are five powerful reasons to focus efforts on children and young people- and hence, schools:

1. The most obvious justification for ‘starting young’ is that it can have a lasting effect on children’s and young people’s later relationships. Adolescence is a crucial period in terms of women’s and men’s formation of respectful, non-violent relationships later in life. Males’ and females’ adult relationships are shaped in important ways by the norms and practices they take on in adolescence. Interventions at this stage can change young people’s personal and relationship trajectories, preventing problems in adulthood. Thus, early policy investment generates long-term benefits.

2. Many children and young people experience violence in their homes; one in four young people report having witnessed an act of physical violence against their mother or stepmother. In addition to the impact on families and communities, such violence also has significant social, health and economic costs, and can have an impact on later relationships.

3. Young people are already being subjected to, and perpetrating, violence themselves. As well as experiencing violence by their parents and other family members, young people – especially girls and young women – can suffer violence in their own dating relationships. Young women face high risks of violence, particularly sexual violence. Large numbers of girls and young women are forced, coerced, or pressured into unwanted sexual activity: Like violence against adult women, dating and relationship violence has a profound impact on girls’ and young women’s health and well-being. Substantial numbers of boys and young men use physical violence or sexual violence, or report a willingness to do so.

4. Among children and young people, there is already some degree of tolerance for violence against girls and women. Younger males are particularly likely to endorse violence against women, some gender norms among teenagers ‘normalise’ sexual coercion, and substantial proportions of young men continue to be tolerant of intimate partner violence. Children and young people are exposed to high levels of violence-supportive messages in the media and wider community, in a context of tolerance of violence against women by a large number of Australians. This not mean that violence prevention strategies among young people are ‘too late’, but it does mean that violence prevention strategies must address already existing patterns of dating violence and normative supports.

5. Violence prevention education among children and youth has been shown to work. After three decades of violence prevention work and research among children and young people, a considerable amount is known about both the bases or causes of interpersonal violence and the strategies that can make a positive difference. In particular, there is evidence that schools-based strategies can lessen perpetration and victimisation.

Click HERE to register now.

Flood M., Fergus L. & Heenan M. (2009). Respectful Relationships Education: Violence prevention and respectful relationships education in Victorian secondary schools, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. State of Victoria (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development)