BFW has launched pilot programme for teachers on the topic of “domestic violence”
The Bulgarian Fund for Women has successfully completed its project “Raising the sensitivity of the youth on “domestic violence” issues through improving teachers’ capacity for prevention and work on the topic, implemented with the support of Bulgarian Ministry of Justice. The main project goal was delivering adapted study content for students in elementary, secondary and high schools, as well as improving the capacity of teachers and students on the topic of “domestic violence” in order to prevent the problem itself and its consequences, e.g. transferring aggression in schools among others. The efforts were divided in two major actions to achieve this goal: holding seminars for trainers in three areas in Bulgaria and issuing expert and practice support documents for the pedagogues teaching on the topic in class.
According to official statistics by the European Union agency on fundamental rights from 2014, every third woman in the world is a victim of physical or sexual violence. As claimed in a report by “Partners – Bulgaria” from September 2016, the numbers here are even more disturbing – one out of three women suffers from violence in her own home. The topic still remains taboo for our country, public discussions on how to overcome this problem are rare, the information is insufficient and most often the victims don’t know how and where to seek for help.
The situation is even more complicated and dangerous for children, who have suffered or witnessed acts of violence – they normalize the violent reality, not knowing any else, they follow and become trapped in the model of violator – victim and not least transfer aggression in the school.
Developing sensitivity, intolerance and knowledge about domestic violence in children is a key factor for ending the vicious cycle of home violence – school violence. Such skills could be tаught only by their teachers – in a protected environment of trust, transparency and support. It is very important that teachers have the needed competences on “domestic violence” in order to establish such environment.
Within the project nearly 80 teachers from Sofia, Stara Zagora and Pleven regions went through trainings on topics such as gender based stereotypes, gender equality and domestic violence. The gained knowledge for recognizing and combating domestic violence has key role for teachers in their direct work with students and also in the subsequent institutional initiation of the topic in schools. In April 2016, Bulgaria signed the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the so-called Istanbul Convention) – a fundamental document for addressing the problem, which contains a number of recommendations, measures and specific actions. With the forthcoming ratification of the Convention, our country will engage in concrete steps on prevention, including the introduction of the topic in the school education.
Currently in Bulgaria, there is no subject or curriculum aiming the establishment of knowledge about domestic violence among the students from all age groups. With this project BFW has the intention to fill the gap and propose adapted instruments for presenting the topic to student of all ages. A Handbook in Support of Teachers on Domestic Violence prevention and work and a specialized Pilot Educational Programme “Domestic violence: the school and teacher role in prevention and combating it” were created within the project. They were distributed among the schools whose teachers were involved in trainings and are currently available for free use.
The topic and discussions on violence are being introduced in class by the teachers who were involved, and the children’s sensitivity to the problem will be raised through the Handbook and the Programme. Follow-up actions would include improving the created documents and conducting thematic trainings among a wider range of pedagogues to establish the necessary theoretical and practical foundations for the formal launching of the topic in the school curriculum.