A set of online training tools will help teachers, youth workers and health professionals across Europe identify and challenge controlling and abusive behaviour against young people.
It follows the two-year Gap Work project, led by academics at Brunel University London, which trained professionals to spot and intervene where sexist, sexualising, homophobic and controlling behaviour are present in the peer cultures of the young people they work with.
The online tools have been developed to train practitioners and for direct use in work with children and young people. They aim to ensure that young people affected by gender-related violence are quickly referred to appropriate support services.
Dr Pam Alldred, director of the Centre for Youth Work Studies at Brunel, said: “There is a gaping need for training on the gender-related violence faced by young people. Health, youth and education workers can make a real difference but first they need to know what they are looking for and what to do about it.”
The European Union-funded project, which ran free workshops for more than 800 practitioners in Ireland, Spain, Italy and the UK, responded to the gender-related violence that is increasingly prevalent among young people, but that professionals have usually had very little training to deal with.
In Ireland, 90% of the youth workers who attended the workshops had witnessed gender-related violence or knew someone who had experienced it.
Meanwhile, the training in Italy demonstrated that lesbian, gay and transgender issues had been marginalised in the fight against machismo.
In the UK, concerns were raised about the room for manoeuvre those working in schools feel they have, and while youth and community workers seemed more able to develop activities based on the training materials, it was found that the buy-in of senior managers was crucial to secure change.
The Spanish team encouraged learning to start from reflection on individual experience and the groups developed feminist pedagogies. In each country, the focus was on promoting equality alongside challenging violence and normative ideals.
The free training resources and a full report of the Gap Work project are available on the project website in five languages. The training materials include activities for practitioners to share with colleagues, and links to existing organisations providing support and materials.