Tackling teenage domestic abuse in Sunderland

Kennedy Cummings, 16, front, was one of the Farringdon Community Academy pupils who made the "I Have the Right" DVD about abuse in teenage relationships, she is pictured at an event on White Ribbon day, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women with left to right; Sue Terry from Wearside Women in Need, Vicki Kennedy gentoo film maker, and Coun Harry Trueman Chair of the Safer Sunderland Partnership.

Kennedy Cummings, 16, front, was one of the Farringdon Community Academy pupils who made the "I Have the Right" DVD about abuse in teenage relationships, she is pictured at an event on White Ribbon day, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women with left to right; Sue Terry from Wearside Women in Need, Vicki Kennedy gentoo film maker, and Coun Harry Trueman Chair of the Safer Sunderland Partnership.

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YOUNG people in Sunderland are helping to raise awareness of the issue of domestic abuse within teenage relationships.

As part of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, recognised nationally with annual White Ribbon Day, pupils from Farringdon Community Academy were joined by members of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, Wearside Women in Need and Gentoo to show their support.

They also used the day to promote the help available throughout the city for the people and families affected.

This includes ‘I have the right’ DVD, written and produced by pupils at the Allendale Road school to highlight the issues around abuse in teenage relationships, which is used as a teaching aid.

The short film deals with many different aspects of abuse in teenage relationships from the physical to the psychological and emotional. The DVD views this problem from a young person’s perspective, highlighting the warning signs and signposting them to the help and support available.

Media teacher at Farringdon Community Academy, Lorraine Bird, said: “It was really rewarding working with the group of young people, they showed a great deal of maturity engaging with some very difficult information. We are proud to have been involved in this project and hope the resources have a positive impact for those who use them.”

Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council and Chairman of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, Councillor Harry Trueman, said: “Domestic violence and abusive relationships create problems around the world.

“Wearing the White Ribbon is a good way of reminding people who are perhaps reluctant to come forward and admit they have a problem, that help and support is there if they need it.

“The ‘I have the right’ DVD produced by young people for young people, provides our schools with a valuable teaching resource to get these messages across and strengthen the existing support framework already in place.”

Deputy Director of Gentoo Living, Michelle Meldrum, said: “By working with partners to raise awareness and educate people about domestic abuse, we can encourage more people to come forward and seek support. We are committed to supporting victims of domestic abuse and are proud to be supporting White Ribbon Day.”

The Safer Sunderland Partnership’s work with other agencies in the city has created a network of services and facilities designed to help combat domestic violence and abuse, including a specialist domestic violence court, multi-agency risk assessment conferences and independent domestic violence advisors to reduce repeat victimisation.

Work of Wearside Women In Need within the partnership helps victims of domestic violence by providing three refuges, a 24-hour helpline plus outreach and resettlement support.

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SUNDERLAND campaigner Clare Phillipson has welcomed news that a pilot scheme to protect women from partners with a record of domestic violence will be extended nationwide.

The so-called Clare’s Law allows women to check police records to see if a new partner has a violent past. It is named after 36-year-old Clare Wood, who was murdered by ex-boyfriend George Appleton at her home in Salford in February 2009.

The mother-of-one had met Appleton on Facebook, unaware of his history of violence against women including repeated harassment, threats and the knifepoint kidnapping of another ex-girlfriend.

The law is expected to take effect from March.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: “Domestic abuse shatters lives - Clare’s Law provides people with the information they need to escape an abusive situation before it ends in tragedy.

“The national scheme will ensure that more people can make informed decisions about their relationship and escape if necessary. This is an important step towards ensuring we do better by women like Clare Wood in the future.”

Clare Phillipson, who heads Wearside Women in Need, said the move to extend the scheme nationwide was long overdue.

“We have been asking for this for a long, long time, because it is so important,” she said.

“We can and do get women living with someone who has committed manslaughter or serious sexual offences, has been extremely violent towards other women, and they have no idea who they are living with.

“Sometimes we will find out about somebody but then we are told as an organisation that we can’t inform a potential victim that this man is dangerous because it would be a breach of his human rights.

“On more than a few occasions we have known somebody is living with a man who has been extremely violent, who is a sex offender, but we’ve been told we can’t tell her about it.

“I just think it is absolutely outrageous that a group of professionals know more about a person’s life than she does.”