Providing young people with the information and support they need to keep them safe is at the heart of a new Isle of Wight Council campaign launched today (Monday).
Targeting 13 to 20-year-olds, the campaign will touch on important issues such as healthy relationships, consent, coercive control, sending messages, online safety and being careful who you meet.
It will run across social media over the next two weeks and will include a series of interactive multiple-choice questions. Each interactive story provides local help, along with links for more information and support.
The campaign will also give strong support to the recently introduced Relationships, Sex and Health (RSHE) Education statutory guidance from the Department for Education, which is now rolling out across Island schools.
Teresa Brimble-Brennan, the council’s domestic abuse project officer, said: “The aim is to raise awareness of these targeted issues and statistics with our young people, and the wider community.
“By doing so, we hope to educate and prevent young people from getting into these serious issues in the first place and help keep them safe.”
In an online survey carried out by the Isle of Wight Youth Trust last summer, 30 per cent of respondents expressed worry about how they were getting on with their girlfriend/boyfriend or partner, such as shouting, arguing or hitting.
Teresa said: “Abuse can happen to anyone, and it often goes unrecognised.
“Children and young people that are new to relationships might not know what a healthy relationship is. So, it’s important to help both young people and adults spot the signs when a relationship is unhealthy.
“Sustained controlling behaviour such as regularly intimidating, bullying, criticising or threatening someone in a personal relationship, are all forms of what is called ‘coercive control’. This is a form of domestic abuse and is a criminal offence.”
Through the RHSE curriculum, children and young people will learn about positive, healthy relationships, understand how they can keep themselves safe and feel confident to speak out when something is not right.
The curriculum content is progressive, from primary to secondary-aged children and very much focuses on the skills, attitudes and understandings needed to enable children to lead happy lives both in childhood and as adults.
A range of help and support is available to young people on the Island, including general advice and confidential listening.
The Isle of Wight Youth Trust offers an easy to access, free counselling service for young people — call 529269 or email: email@example.com
Support is also available from You First, the Island’s domestic violence and abuse support provider, which works with young people who are a victim in an unhealthy relationship themselves or have been affected by domestic abuse between their parents or carers.
Young people can refer themselves for this support by calling 0800 234 6266.
Councillor Debbie Andre, Cabinet member for children’s services, added: “Young people are a key focus for the Domestic Abuse Forum and a priority group that we will be reaching out to and ensuring we are able to support their needs.
“I hope that this new campaign will provide them with the information and support they need to keep them safe and be able to recognise what a heathy relationship should look like.”