Police working in partnership with local schools, NSPCC, theatre company ‘Spanner in the Works’, Travellers Support Groups and Woman’s Aid will be hosting a number of seminars called ‘Beat It’ to encourage teenagers to think about healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Constable Pat Gallagher, Community Safety explains the rationale behind the project:
“Domestic abuse is a serious issue that will affect approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime. In 2008-2009 there were 23,591 domestic incidents reported and 9,211 domestic related crimes in Northern Ireland. We were keen to undertake a project with young people, 14 years of age and up, that would help them identify early indicators in an unhealthy relationship.”
Financial support secured from Policing With The Community Fund allowed the partnership to appoint a theatre group ‘Spanner in the Works’ to develop a script, which created scenarios young people could identify with.
Constable Pamela McElhinney, Community Safety discusses the format of the event, and how it has been structured to encourage and stimulate discussion on healthy and unhealthy relationships.
“Feedback from the partnership outlined the importance of interacting with and engaging young people. A decision was made to stage a play in four parts, with discussion time scheduled between each section. Young people would be placed into groups and assigned a facilitator to lead and guide conversations on issues presented in the drama. Each event would last approximately 70 minutes in total.”
Over four hundred pupils from Brownlow College, Craigavon, St.Catherine’s Armagh, Our Lady’s Grammar Newry and Dromore High School will attend the seminar over a four day period in January and February 2010.
Woman’s Aid UK claim that domestic abuse is largely a hidden crime and that those who have experienced abuse from a partner or ex-partner will often try to keep it from families, friends, or authorities. To address this aspect, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has undertaken a number of advertising campaigns to encourage reporting of domestic abuse, with the most recent campaign taking place across Northern Ireland in December 2009.