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Love Bites is in the Spotlight

by PeakCare Qld on 21st May 2015

Home -> Articles -> 2015 -> May -> Love Bites is in the Spotlight

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As many are aware, May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month. PeakCare began the month with our post on the Our Watch initiative that is working towards a National strategy to prevent violence against women and their children. This week we focus on a preventative program aimed at young people.

Of all the commentary on domestic and family violence, probably the greatest point of agreement is that in spite of overwhelming research and evidence based practice, we are still grappling to adequately deal with this issue. This is especially evidenced by 2 women a week dying so far in 2015 at the hands of current or former partners. These terrible statistics don’t include the Emergency Room visits and the number of women who are brutalised daily who either report or don’t report their experiences but fortunately survive. We also know that the link between domestic and family violence and child abuse is overwhelmingly significant. Furthermore, it is well documented that family violence is an abuse of power and the most vulnerable in our society suffer horrendous consequences as a result. Not surprisingly, amongst our most vulnerable are children. The vulnerability of children, their lack of voice and visibility and their relationship to domestic and family violence via the significant impact on them is what led Our Watch to include children in their campaign to ensure the focus is on women and their children.

Children suffer considerably through domestic and family violence either through the trauma of physical harm or the emotional and psychological damage caused by being witnesses to this abuse. In the worst case scenarios children die from such abuse. One in every five family violence murders in Australia is of a child. This statistic speaks volumes.

Whilst the correlation between domestic and family violence and child abuse is clear in research and well known to practitioners, dealing with the issue largely eludes us. As we continue to deal with the whole gamut of issues surrounding domestic and family violence and the overwhelming impact on children and young people, fortunately we also know that programs of early intervention and prevention are key to the long term eradication of this major social ill.

Love Bites is such a program. This is an extremely successful school-based domestic and family violence and sexual assault prevention program. This program is offered by NAPCAN, the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

Based on best practice standards for education programs as recommended by the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse and other leading academics in the area of violence against women, the Love Bites program consists of two interactive education workshops on Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual assault. These are followed by creative workshops that consolidate the information. The workshops are delivered by both male and female facilitators to role model respectful relationships between genders.

"The program has been successful not only throughout Queensland but across the country given that promoting a program that works directly with young people around their personal and societal views with regard torespectful relationships is significant in changing the ways we think and act in our personal lives. We're also focused on talking about and working through tasks associated with domestic and family violence and sexual assault prevention as this is the key to change in order to ensurethe wellbeingof children and young people now and into the future" says Angela Jegou, NAPCAN's National Services Manager (Queensland).

The Love Bites domestic and family violence and sexual assault prevention program is for

Students in Years 9 and 10 of high school, aged between 15 and 17 years. Love Bites can also be delivered in out?of-school settings, such as alternative school programs, school Support units, Juvenile Justice and youth holiday programs.

It is important to ensure that positive relationships and genuine love don’t bite by acknowledging that love bites when you’re up against someone who wants to take your power and exert authority over you. This reality, when realised, bites! Hence the aim of Love Bites is to teach young people positive relationship skills to:

  • Provide a safe environment in which young people can talk about domestic and family violence and sexual assault.
  • Promote and model respectful relationships for young people.
  • Raise awareness about domestic and family violence and sexual assault, its prevalence and forms.
  • Bring about attitudinal change in relation to domestic and family violence and sexual assault.
  • Engage young people, male and female, on the issues of domestic and family violence and sexual assault in a non-sex-segregated environment with male and female facilitators.
  • Challenge gender stereotypes, attitudes, values and social institutions that perpetuate male violence against women.
  • Deconstruct the myths that exist in local communities and society generally on domestic and Family violence and sexual assault.
  • Encourage and educate young people to support their friends.
  • Educate young people through a creative and relevant process that builds on their existing knowledge base.
  • Introduce young people to local service providers in an informal environment.
  • Develop youth-led community campaigns on the issues of domestic and family violence and sexual assault.

The Love Bites program has two key components; namely the facilitator training and the delivery of the program to young people:

The Love Bites Facilitator training is a two day intensive course that covers all content to enable members of the local community to deliver the program with young people in their local school or in an out of school setting. There is usually a minimum of 15 and up to 30 participants per session. The attendees consist of those who work with young people and supporting members of the community. These supporting members include but are not limited to: the Queensland Police Service, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault workers, Teachers, School Nurses, Guidance Officers, school based Youth Health Nurses and Counsellors.

The other component is the delivery of the Love Bites program. This is where those who have completed the Love Bites Facilitator training deliver essential information directly to the students in partnership with local schools or alternative education facilities. The program has been delivered in one day for those attending school. It can also be delivered over an eight week course, with lesson plans developed, which is more in line with best practice standards. As the community and school work together to deliver the program, there is no fee to the student attendees. The school generally provides the art supplies and a hip hop artist to assist with the creative sessions. These creative sessions are held later in the day to assist the students in cementing their learning.

NAPCAN is currently finishing its third update, developing the Love Bites program into a multi-session whole of school prevention program. This is a widely recognised and much respected program offering clear guidance and much needed information to adolescents to prepare them to be participating adults in relationships free from abuse and harm. In imparting this vital information Love Bites not only offers prevention opportunities to this group of young people but prepares them as parents and role models for all of those to whom they relate; including their peers, colleagues and children.

With the torrent of current information in Australia we’re under no illusion that Domestic and Family Violence can be eradicated with ease. Programs such as Love Bites offer excellent skill development and information to young people. They provide the desired hope that with knowledge comes the power to change circumstances and improve relationships for young people. Such information imparted now and into their future aims to impact the well-being of individuals, families and our communities. With such information imparted we can hope that the influence will ensure that love will bite less for these young people, their families and our communities.

NAPCAN has recently launched an onlinetrainingcalendarand are currently promoting the Love Bites FacilitatorTraining.

Click hereto be taken directly to the calendar, where you can view future events, create an account, register fortrainingworkshops, pay & receive a receipt.

If you do not seetrainingon dates that might suit you, please contact NAPCAN on 3287 3533 orqld@napcan.org.aufor a quote for dates that are more appropriate for you.

In keeping with their prevention work, NAPCAN is calling for nominations for the 2015 Play Your Part Awards for Inspiring Prevention Initiatives. For more information and to nominate individuals, communities and organisations involved in supporting children, young people and their families, please click here.