The key to solving violence against women lies in ECEC, Think Equal initiative says
Australia could end discrimination and violence against women in the workplace and broader society through implemented social and emotional learning in early childhood, the Think Equal initiative has said.
Think Equal, a global initiative, is calling for a “system change” in education to end the discriminatory mindset and the cycle of violence across the world to ensure positive life outcomes for children.
The call is backed by leading academics, politicians and business people, including world leaders in education and social and emotional learning such as the late Professor Emeritus Sir Ken Robinson, Founding Patron of Think Equal; Prof Marc Brackett, the founder and Director of Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence; and neuroscientist Prof Richard Davidson, founder and chair of the Center for Healthy Minds in the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Think Equal Australian Director Emma Welsh said the recent outcry of women around Australia in response to alleged sexualised violence within Parliament highlights the need for this change.
“It must begin at preschool age, not just in teen years and adults,” she said.
“Governments and education networks need to adopt and mandate a new subject on social and emotional learning for children between three and six years of age, because this is the optimal window to modify attitudes, values and behaviours based on evidence from neuroscientists.
Ms Welsh asked those with a duty of care for children how it can be that children have to learn mathematics, but it is optional that they learn how to value other people or develop healthy relationships.
Governments ignoring social and emotional learning as an essential and core purpose of teaching and nurturing children has held back the development of gender and racial equality, she added.
“The world’s increasingly complex problems – violence, discrimination, climate change, inequality – need a new generation of thinkers that have the skills, competencies and creativity to solve them.”
In Australia, Think Equal has recently finished evaluating a randomised control trial of a 2019 pilot for young children. Conducted by Dr Craig Bailey, of Yale University, and Dr Sue Emmett and Dr Lynne Reeder, both of Federation University Australia, the findings will be released in the near future, with early feedback from the researchers noting the positive impact of the program on young children, with a significant improvement in a number of social and emotional metrics.
For more information on Think Equal, see here.