Gender and Respectful Relationships: Will the curriculum reduce gender-based violence?

The controversy surrounding the Victorian government’s introduction of the new Respectful Relationships curriculum begs the question of whether the program will actually have a great benefit. One of the main worries of people who oppose the program is that discussing gender-based violence explicitly will merely cause a rift between genders.

The article shared today is a research paper on trialling the Respectful Relationships program in 2010. It discusses what preceded Respectful Relationships, and what the program covers today. The main difference between the past and current approaches, the article suggests, is the addition of the underlying value of respect. The paper states that most researchers agree that education to prevent gender-based violence must focus on both the actions of individuals and the influence of broader social structures (like gender roles) in creating violence.

The bulk of the paper discusses the experience of both the students and teachers involved in the 2010 trial of the Respectful Relationships curriculum. While experiences were mixed, the research ultimately shows that discussing gender-based violence did not, as recent controversy suggests, lead to disengagement of either teachers or students.

So if war between the genders will not result from the Respectful Relationships curriculum, will it be a positive force for education in Victoria?

Ollis, D 2011, ‘A ‘respectful relationships’ approach: Could it be the answer to preventing gender-based violence?’, Redress, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 19-26, viewed 21 October 2016, http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=131439535270219;res=IELHSS