A Wrexham family lawyer has slammed the Welsh government for back-tracking on its earlier promises to clamp down on domestic abuse through education in schools.
Nathan Wright, a partner with leading North Wales law firm GHP Legal, says the only way to change social attitudes to the increasing problem of domestic abuse in Wales is by educating youngsters about relationship respect during adolescence and he cannot understand why the Welsh government has backed down on this.
The aborted promises were made two years ago in a white paper outlining a new Welsh government bill aimed at tackling violence against women. It was claimed Wales would take the UK lead by putting ‘ground-breaking’ new legislation in the statute book, centred on education. When the bill came out recently, however, all mention of educational involvement had disappeared.
“We need to change attitudes that lead to people becoming perpetrators of domestic abuse,” said Mr Wright, “and that is only going to happen if we can do it early on in their lives. When the white paper came out I had every hope that the problem was going to be tackled at the right time to make a real difference – in schools. That was what the Welsh government promised but it is not in the Bill.
“Domestic abuse counts for more than a third of all reported assaults with injury in Wales and with every additional generation it is likely to become more the norm for those who have grown up with it. I see it all the time in my job.
As well as the Welsh government’s failure to engage with education I am also concerned that they are behind the times in recognising that domestic abuse is not gender specific. This new bill is aimed at tackling violence against women, yet there are an increasing number of male domestic abuse victims. Maybe it is time the government started seeking advice from those who work at grass roots level with abuse victims.