Why we need to make teaching children how to build happy, healthy and emotionally rewarding relationships a priority.
It is an inescapable fact that relationship breakdown has terrible, life-changing consequences — not least on children, far too many of whom are caught up in, or witness to, child and domestic violence, sexual violence, partnership breakup, family breakdown and the fallout from workplace stress.
It is a tragedy when just one child’s life is affected by such events. The reality, sadly, is far grimmer. National statistics paint a sobering picture of relationship breakdown in the home, the workplace and the wider community.
Here are just some of them, detailed on my Fractured Relationships webpage:
- There are up to 3 million cases of child abuse, involving nearly 5.5 million children
- Something like 5.4% of adults – in other words 1 in 18 adults, or 2.4 million people – suffer domestic violence
- An estimated 20% of women and 4% of men experience some type of sexual assault after the age of 16
- The UK continues to have some of the highest levels of family breakdown anywhere in the world
- According to a 2018 UK workplace stress survey, 49% of all working days lost in 2016-2017 were reported as being due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. The Health and Safety Executive cites relationship problems at work as one of the main drivers of workplace stress.
It would be foolish to believe that such problems can be solved quickly. There is support available for those who need immediate help and to deal with the human consequences of relationship breakdown.
However, we also need a longer-term strategy, one that is sufficiently radical and ambitious to address the root causes of relationship breakdown rather than just its symptoms. Part of that strategy needs to involve teaching children — the next generation of adults — about how to build happy, healthy and emotionally rewarding relationships with family, friends and fellow pupils.
Relationships is one of the nine life-based learning themes through which the Forum for Life-Based Learning believes the individual subjects of the UK National Curriculum should be taught, in order to equip children with the knowledge, skills and values to tackle the challenges they will meet as adults.
The Relationships learning theme arms children with key skills as they begin to construct an ever-expanding web of relationships at home, in school and in the wider world, including — ultimately — the workplace.
Find out more about the Relationships learning theme
Learn more about what life-based learning involves
An Urgent Priority
Why we need a long-term strategy to tackle relationship breakdown
Image at the head of this article by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.