11/02/2016 12:20 GMT | Updated 11/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Love Don't Feel Bad - And Young People Need to Know It

This week, the Government has released a statement rejecting calls for statutory status for PSHE education (personal, social, health and economic education). They have said that they will keep it under review - but, for now, it's a big fat no.

It's a huge disappointment. All evidence points to the need and demand for PSHE education. But clearly, educating the next generation about healthy sex and relationships - education that could help reduce levels of sexual violence, domestic abuse, and help both boys and girls feel empowered to recognise what is and what is not acceptable in a relationship - is not a priority.

We live in a world in which children as young as 8 are watching hardcore pornography, two in three young women agree that popular culture tells boys that they are entitled to coerce or abuse their girlfriends, and 2 women a week are killed at hands of a partner or ex-partner. That means we just cannot afford excuses. We must counteract the bewildering messages about sex and relationships and the objectification of women that our children are mercilessly bombarded with. The Government must take this on board, and Women's Aid will keep the pressure up on them to do so, alongside other organisations.

In the meantime, Women's Aid has today launched a fantastic new campaign, 'Love Don't Feel Bad', supported by Avon. The campaign aims to educate young people and teenagers about domestic abuse - specifically, about coercive control. Coercive control is at the heart of domestic abuse, and it is absolutely vital that young people understand this. Domestic abuse is not just punching and kicking; it is the systematic stripping away of a person's freedom, of their own control over their day-to-day life, by using fear as a weapon.

'Love Don't Feel Bad' has a brilliant array of resources: real-life stories from teenagers who have experienced coercive control, videos of teenagers talking about what it means, a quiz about coercive control - and where to get help if you are a victim or if you're worried about someone else. If you are at teenager, or an adult, or a parent worried about their child, do check it out and get involved. We owe it to young people everywhere: to tell them, once and for all, that love don't feel bad.

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