There have been some interesting articles and commentary around at the moment after the Victorian government announced their plans to replace special religious instruction classes in schools with lessons on domestic violence and healthy relationships. It’s an interesting concept really, but one that they obviously feel was very necessary. With the rate of domestic violence and family violence on the increase, perhaps it is something that should be introduced?
When I read the article, my first thought was that domestic violence and healthy relationships are surely something that should be taught and learned at home, not at school. The amount of content that teachers are expected to cover each term is already so high, is it really fair to add more into the curriculum? The majority of children will learn what a healthy relationship looks like through watching their own parents, their friend’s parents and the other relationships within their extended family.
But as I thought more about it, I realised that those kids who are returning home each night to witness domestic violence or an unhealthy relationship between these key figures in their life would actually be learning it all wrong. Some kids might not realise that what is going on at home is incorrect, especially if they are only young and don’t have a lot of exposure to other families and adults. These children would be watching their supposed role models and thinking that it’s acceptable to hit your partner, verbally abuse them and that it’s normal to feel scared in your own house.
It’s proposed that all children in Victorian government schools from Kindergarten to Year 10 will be part of a 30 minute lesson each week on world histories, cultures, faith and ethics – encompassing learning about healthy relationships. This will take the place of Special Religious Instruction classes, (in which usually only a handful of children from each class attend), and SRI will be moved to either lunchtime or before and after school.
So, maybe it is a positive change that these aspects of healthy relationships are taught in schools to children. I guess it’s important to try anything at this point to try and break the cycle of domestic violence, and if it is educating those children who might be in these situations at home – well then I’m all for it.
Have a read of the article and see what you think about the proposed change.
Lauren is a teacher and tutor who works with primary school aged children. Lauren has a Degree in Education from Deakin University, and is currently studying a Diploma in Counseling with AIPC.