Honour-based abuse and forced marriage are illegal in the UK and schools are on the front-line when it comes to spotting the signs and making safeguarding interventions. Dawn Jotham advises in SecEd.
Safeguarding is a broad umbrella term that encompasses a range of issues including mental health, substance abuse and bullying, to name a few. One area of safeguarding that has received greater awareness in recent months responds to the on-going threat of honour-based abuse.
Hoping to empower educators to better understand their role in honour-based abuse, I want to break down some of these barriers and provide some practical tips that schools and teachers can adopt in an effort to deliver best practice safeguarding and create a supportive environment for their students.
The term honour-based abuse encompasses a variety of crimes of abuse which predominately, but not exclusively, affect girls and women. This can include assault, imprisonment and murder, but can also manifest in more subtle forms including psychological and emotional abuse that may result in individuals becoming socially withdrawn or isolated.
It is also important to recognise that in most cases of honour-based abuse, the dishonourable behaviour extends beyond more common misbehaviour such as defiance, moodiness and missing curfew – traits that most young people display as they mature.
Honour-based abuse is the result of a broken honour code. It can be the result of a child wearing too much make-up, perceived over-integration with other cultures, not conforming to religious dress, or saying no to a marriage arrangement.
As with many safeguarding issues, the prevalence of honour-based abuse in the UK is alarming. Statistics from Karma Nirvana, a national award-winning honour-based abuse charity, show that it received more than 12,900 reports to its national helpline in 2017.
Furthermore, of these 12,900-plus reports, 70 per cent of callers identified immediate family members as perpetrators – demonstrative of the strong correlation between honour-based abuse and familial beliefs.
Understanding the risks and “causes” of honour-based abuse is the first step of safeguarding against it, but being aware of the warning signs and having the skill-set to practically provide support must follow.
Read more about the warning signs and what steps to take if you think a student may be experiencing or at risk of honour-based abuse Spotting and preventing honour-based abuse
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