What happened to reading, writing and arithmetic?

Violence in the classroom

The Government intends to introduce mandatory classroom instruction in gender equality and violence against women and girls.

The classes in preventing violence in relationships will be compulsory for children aged five to 15 within 18 months and will be launched as a part of an official campaign to tackle violence against women and girls.

The campaign will target intimate teenage violence following recent research which showed that a quarter of teenage girls suffer physical violence such as being slapped, punched or beaten by their boyfriends, and a third of those in a relationship suffer an unwanted sexual act.

Is school the right place for this kind of instruction? We already know that our children - and their teachers - are feeling stressed and depressed enough as it is; so is this a subject too far? Do teachers have the right kind of expertise to deal with this kind of sensitive area? Should we be thinking of empowering them to do so? And what about resources - where is the money to fund this going to come from?

Government figures show that in the 2006/07 academic year there were 3,500 temporary exclusions and 140 permanent exclusions from schools in England for sexual misconduct, including incidents such as groping, using sexually insulting nicknames, daubing obscene graffiti and serious sexual attacks.

Is, then, school precisely the place where this kind of discussion needs to take place - to be told, among your peers, that sexual and physical violence toward women is totally unacceptable?

I mean, if not in school, then where?