Intimate Partner Violence Among Young People: The Role of the Education Sector in Northern Ireland

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a pressing concern that has garnered significant attention globally. Particularly alarming is the increasing prevalence of IPV among young individuals.

A recent study conducted by Lucia Elizabeth Klencakova at Queen's University Belfast delves deep into this issue, focusing on the role of the education sector in addressing IPV among young people in Northern Ireland.

Understanding the Issue

Domestic violence (DV) and IPV are recognized as major social and human rights issues. The negative impacts of such experiences on young people's well-being and educational achievement cannot be overstated. While there is some evidence suggesting that education plays a pivotal role in protecting young people against IPV, there remains a significant gap in the literature.

The primary aim of Klencakova's study was to strengthen the argument for the education sector's importance in addressing IPV among young people. This was achieved by conducting a systematic review of literature examining the links between IPV and educational achievement. The study also explored the engagement and responsibilities of education service providers in tackling IPV, including their involvement in Relationship and Sexual Education.

Methodology

To gather data, Klencakova conducted 13 qualitative interviews and 2 focus groups with providers in the education sector, as well as community and youth work sectors. Thematic analysis was employed to examine the data, revealing several key themes.

Findings

The study identified eight central themes, including the perceived roles and duties of education service providers in confronting IPV, the importance of Relationship and Sexual Education, and the need for continuous professional development and collaboration. The research also touched upon the participants' views on who should be responsible for addressing IPV in the education sector and how their response to IPV cases evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A crucial takeaway from the study is the pressing need for a provision tailored to young people's specific circumstances. This includes a joined-up approach involving statutory, education, and voluntary/community sectors, as well as a consistent engagement in DV/IPV prevention and intervention.

Conclusion

Klencakova's research offers invaluable insights that can inform prevention and intervention strategies and policies in Northern Ireland and beyond. The results underscore the importance of a multilateral approach, identifying gaps in post-primary education, and recognizing intersections for diverse service provision and fit-for-purpose policy.