In the United Kingdom, the anti-abuse charity Tender is working to help kids avoid abusive relationships by teaching them how to recognize those relationships and the kinds of actions that are abusive. Many of the students that they work with are around 13 or 14 years of age, but they already live in a world in which they are at risk of being assaulted or abused. The charity receives a number of requests from primary schools looking for help teaching kids under 11 about the same topics.
According to recent research, over 5,500 sex crimes in UK schools were reported to police over the last three years. 27% of schoolchildren repot knowing someone who was raped or sexually assaulted, and 22% report knowing someone who has been controlled by a partner or friend. Chances are, as reporting such problems is still difficult for many young people to do, these numbers do not accurately reflect just how many children face these problems, especially because another report outlined that many instances are ignored by school officials or law enforcement.
While it seems like the frequency of sexual violence in British schools is increasing, it’s not entirely clear if that is because it actually is increasing, or if more instances are being reported due to increased awareness. Hopefully it’s the latter, and in either case, Tender is working hard to give kids the tools they need to recognize abuse and report it.
The organization isn’t funded well enough to help every school that requests their help, but that too will hopefully change in the future. As their workshops gain steam and more and more schools come to them for help, those school might be able to net additional funding to support such workshops. Educators seem to be on board and agree that there is enough time in the school day to address the kinds of relationships kids are having, and help the learn to make decisions that are right for them.