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Quality relationship education 'can reduce partner violence'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A Families Commission report released today, White Ribbon Day, finds that quality relationship education in schools is one of the most effective ways to prevent future dating or partner violence.

Chief Commissioner Belinda Milnes says the review of information and literature from New Zealand and internationally has identified what works for intermediate and secondary aged school students.

Ms Milnes says, "This is an important finding as a good programme can make a real difference. It gives young people the skills and knowledge to avoid or to deal with coercive or abusive relationships.

"It could potentially help address some key social issues such as reducing our high rates of unplanned teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections."

The report identifies common characteristics of successful programmes including being age and culturally appropriate, part of the curriculum, use active teaching methods and focused on developing personal or social skills.

Although there are still fundamental gaps in knowledge about what works for different ages, genders and ethnicities, key findings include:

Programmes with a strong focus on relationships may be more effective than those with a narrow focus on biology or abstinence, to achieve sexual health outcomes;

Programmes that focus only on negative aspects of sexuality, like teen parenting or STIs, are not effective;

One-off sessions or lecture-style delivery are ineffective.

The Ministry of Education is developing guidelines, which will enable schools to identify and choose evidence-based relationship education programmes.

The Families Commission will be working with the Education Ministry to monitor and evaluate their guidelines when released to schools. The Commission is also developing guidelines and checklists to help those who develop and deliver programmes to ensure they work.

The report will support also government work to prevent sexual violence.

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