The lessons 
of abuse

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HUNDREDS of teenagers in Hartlepool are to receive school lessons about domestic violence.

A new initiative starts this month for Year 10 pupils in every secondary school across town. They will be taught the importance of healthy relationships.

It comes amid growing evidence that some teenagers find domestic abuse acceptable.

Outreach workers from town domestic violence group Harbour will hold one-hour sessions with all 14 and 15-year-olds as soon as schools return from the Christmas break.

Rachael Williamson, the Harbour service manager responsible for children and young persons, said: “We have got the funding to run this programme to look at domestic abuse. It will also look at equality in relationships for young people.”

Rachael said the problem of abuse in relationships was happening at ever-younger ages.

She said: “When we speak to Year 10 pupils, some think that domestic abuse is acceptable because they live with it.

“They think it is normal so we are going in and challenging that. We want to look at their feelings.”

The lesson is a one-off one-hour class and includes a session where Harbour workers question students for their opinions on posed questions such as “are boys better drivers than girls” and “boys only want sex and girls want love.”

“We want their understanding of what is a good healthy relationship,” said Rachael.

Students are asked questions at the start of the session and then again at the end to see if their attitudes have changed.

“This will be a one-hour session. We will look at what equality is,” Rachael added.

Harbour serves the Hartlepool, East Durham, Stockton, Middlesbrough and North Tyneside area but the Year 10 sessions are only planned to be held in schools in Hartlepool.

However, another new service has also been launched in Hartlepool.

Thanks to funding from Children in Need, Harbour has taken on a new employee called a NOW (New Opportunities Worker).

They will support children who are unsettled and have behaviour issues.

“They might have moved into Hartlepool from other areas and not have many friends. The NOW worker will work with them, perhaps see them every day and get them involved in local activities and youth clubs.”

Harbour offers a number of services including five refuges for people who flee violent homes, and an outreach service to help families living with domestic violence.

For advice and support contact:

l Harbour (01429) 277 508 (24 hours) or text HARBOUR and your message to 60777;


l In case of emergency, always ring the police on 999.