Police fight for domestic violence school education


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“We think that preventative behaviour and getting involved early and taking action early will prevent that one woman murdered.” Sunshine Coast Senior Sergeant Daren Edwards

A senior Sunshine Coast police officer wants to enlist the help of local schools to provide stronger education and prevent domestic violence.

Sunshine Coast Criminal Investigation Branch officer-in-charge Daren Edwards said education needed to start at a young age to counter sexist attitudes.

“Domestic violence training and attitudes and raising awareness really starts in our own backyard,” Detective Senior Sergeant Edwards said.

“We think that preventative behaviour and getting involved early and taking action early will prevent that one woman murdered.”

A woman is killed in domestic violence-related incidents every nine days on average in Australia.

Snr Sgt Edwards has been working closely with Mountain Creek State School on education programs spanning prep to grade 12.

The education is delivered as part of the Queensland Government’s respectful relationships education program.

Snr Sgt Edwards said this was a good start, but more needed to be done.

“[So far] it’s just been raising the conversation between males and talking to each other about what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable,” Snr Sgt Edwards said.

“I don’t believe we’ve got a really suitable or targeted education syllabus in relation to raising awareness around domestic violence and behaviour of males, sexual assault, understanding consent, what’s right and what’s wrong, those basic things.”

University of the Sunshine Coast lecturer Dr Stefanie Fishel has done extensive work in gender studies.

She said it was important to counter the “boys will be boys” mentality, which is often taught at a very young age.

“Gender education in primary school is probably the strongest, and the one that’s least looked at,” Dr Fishel said.

“We need to think about the things we often say like, ‘If that boy’s mean to you, he likes you’.”

In Australian primary schools, young boys are often only taught by female teachers, meaning they frequently do not have a male role model outside of the home.

Dr Fishel said understanding how sexist attitudes start was key to developing quality education.

“Men don’t get to experience all of the emotions that are available for a human to experience – so, your ability to express emotion is basically rage or silence,” Dr Fishel said.

“Young boys see their mothers being treated in a certain way by their fathers, and it’s hard to break that cycle of abuse, because that’s the way they’re taught to value women.”

If you or a loved one is the victim of domestic violence, support is available through these resources.