PUPILS have been taking part in a police-funded programme to learn about domestic abuse.

Ponteland Community Middle School took part in the Operation Encompass Next Steps scheme, aimed at Year 5 pupils.

Piloted in Northumbria, thanks to funding secured by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner’s office, the operation sees liaison officers across the North-East, visit schools to educate children and explain what domestic abuse is, how it can affect children and what to do if you are or witness a victim.

During her session in Ponteland, Laura Miller, a school safeguarding liaison officer, focused on healthy and unhealthy relationships, teaching children the warning signs of a controlling relationship and the importance of all friends and partners being equals.

The encompass team have so far visited 97 per cent of schools in the force area, reaching more than 52,000 children, since the operation’s inception in June 2018.

Detective Superintendent Deborah Alderson of Northumbria Police’s safeguarding department said: “We set out to make a real difference by breaking the taboo of speaking about domestic abuse – ensuring domestic abuse is not normalised or accepted behaviour for young people and children.

“This project has empowered young people – and their families too – to speak out and seek help where they have needed it.

“Anyone can experience domestic abuse so we have offered this to every single school in our force area and had an overwhelmingly positive response from schools.

“We are so grateful for the support we have received from head teachers and other education professionals as well as domestic abuse co-ordinators in our local authority partnerships to help us reach the number of young people we have.”