We’re extending our domestic abuse education programme to schools in Derbyshire, Shrewsbury and Shropshire after a successful 14 years in Staffordshire.

Arch’s ‘Relationships without Fear’ teaches pupils aged 8 to 16 about healthy and unhealthy relationships, emotions and unsafe secrets. The programme also speaks to young people about grooming and consent in secondary schools.

Sarah Buckley, programme lead for Relationships without Fear at Arch, said: “Domestic abuse affects around 1 in 5 children in the UK from every background and happens behind closed doors. The damaging effects can be long lasting and impact on every area of children and young people’s lives.

“In fact, a research project carried out by Dr David Gadd from Keele University found that nearly half of boys and a third of girls aged 13 – 14 thought hitting a partner would be ‘okay’ in at least one of twelve scenarios they were given. So this type of programme is vital to educate the next generation about abuse and make sure they understand and recognise the signs in any future relationships.”

Relationships without Fear has seen thousands of pupils in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire over the 14 years the programme has been running. One Stoke-on-Trent primary school, Clarice Cliff, has received the programme for the past six years. Since then, staff­­­ have seen a huge difference in the pupils’ behaviour.

Mrs Snape, Year 4 teacher, said: “The children are showing a lot more empathy to each other. If there’s been conflict on the playground they look at reasons why it might have happened, not just jumping in as to what’s happened in the moment.

“We don’t always have quality time with the pupils but when someone else is delivering [the programme], you can sit with the children who need a bit of encouragement. When they talk to me about their family, you start making connections as to why some days they’re not as happy as others.”

Year 6 pupil, Leyton, said: “We learnt about abuse, where it happens and why it happens. We also learnt about controlling our anger and what happens when you’re angry. The programme can help with things that happen at home, if it’s happening to you, or if there’s something going on and you don’t know what to do about it.”

Sarah Buckley added: “The biggest change we normally see during the programme is the pupils’ willing to seek help.

“On a pre-questionnaire the children are asked if they would ever seek help from an adult, a friend or a trusted person and the majority of the young people tick no. By the end of the programme, when we’ve spoken about what the different agencies and charities do and the help that is out there, we have a 100% success rate in children ticking that yes they would seek help.”