The UK is one of many nations who support the principles of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. These principles set out the minimum standards expected to prevent violence against women, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators of violence. The Welsh Government recognizes that violence against women in Wales is a violation of human rights. It is both a cause and consequence of inequality between women and men, and that women are disproportionately impacted by all forms of violence. Wales is the first nation in the UK to set out a national strategy to address these issues and make Wales a safer, healthier nation as a result.
The National Strategy for Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (VAWDASV) 2016- 2021 contains six objectives, one of which is to provide victims with equal access to holistic, appropriately resourced, high quality, needs-led, strengths-based, gender responsive services across Wales. To meet this objective the Welsh Government made a commitment to create statutory guidance for relevant authorities on the commissioning of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence services. This guidance aims to ensure that interventions and services engage in evidence informed practice to prevent violence, protect and support survivors across Wales. It serves to raise the standard of services and ensure that what is being delivered is effective, appropriate and offers the best possible outcomes.
Prevention is a priority for this work, with primary and early intervention being key priorities for the Welsh Government. Research shows that experiencing dating violence as a teenager, whether as a perpetrator or victim, increases the risk of repeating the experience in to adulthood. Therefore, it is important to work with young people to provide them with the skills they may need to choose and engage in healthy relationships. Lights4Violence is a European funded intervention that is designed to be delivered with children in schools (13-15yrs) to prevent dating violence emerging in teenage relationships. Lights4Violence aims to provide students with skills that contribute to promoting equality and raise awareness with teenagers of the importance of positive interpersonal relationships. It focusses on positive assets and healthy relationships and is delivered using peer learning methods, including role play, scripting, and acting to create short films that the students can use to both learn and teach others about positive relationship skills.
The aim of Lights4Violence is then primarily to improve health and well-being, but by doing so, to reduce the risk of violence in relationships both in adolescence but also into adulthood. The project is being piloted in Wales and evaluated using robust research methodologies and including a control group in order to explore the impact the intervention has on the health of young people, but also on the factors associated with dating violence. The Welsh Government through VAWDASV stipulate that prevention is everyone’s business and encourages all sectors to work together to do this. We hope that Lights4Violence provides one means by which Schools can be effectively engaged with this priority in making Wales a safer place.
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