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Belinda supports key relationships program for young ones

BELINDA Lindel knows the key to breaking the domestic violence cycle is education.

She spoke this week as part of The Morning Bulletin's Terror at Home campaign that targets domestic and family violence.

Ms Lindel, manager of Women's Health Rockhampton, supports moves to make a respectful relationships program a compulsory component of high school education in Queensland.

Victoria already has a similar program in place, which helps teenagers address the areas of gender, equality, violence, sexual harassment, consent and developing respectful practices.

Ms Lindel said starting education young was important in removing harmful behaviours.

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"By 18 or 19, damaging and violent behaviour has already cemented itself. If these kids aren't being educated early enough to unlearn these behaviours it can have consequences later on," she said.

Ms Lindel suggests the implementation of basic healthy relationship programs to earlier grades, targeting ages as young as 11 and 12.

"Programs for younger ages don't have to be domestic violence specific. It's more about teaching them the principles of healthy relationships and showing them what one looks like," she said.

"Instead of telling them what not to do, I think it's valuable to show them the right kind of relationships in a positive light."

Ms Lindel said the program would be beneficial to children who were growing up in abusive households, where violence might be normalised.

"In situations where it is the male in the relationship that is violent towards the mother, children can present as young as 13 assuming this behaviour towards women is normal," she said.

She said whilst education was the key to reform, it was hard to know the degree in which it would affect general attitudes and how long it would take to incite change.

"They will only really know how successful the campaign is after it has been rolled out for at least 12 months," she said.

Topics:  domestic violence education terrorathome women's health centre



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