Exploring the role of the education sector in addressing intimate partner violence (IPV) among young people in Northern Ireland

  • Lucia Elizabeth Klencakova

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Domestic violence (DV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) has been recognised as a major social and human rights issue. Research highlights that IPV is a significant issue among young people and that such experiences have a negative impact on young people’s wellbeing as well as educational achievement. Although some evidence exists suggesting that education plays an important role in protecting young people against IPV and in mitigating negative outcomes associated with IPV experiences, this study aims to fill a significant gap in the literature. First aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review of literature to examine the links between IPV and education achievement to strengthen the argument of the education sector’s importance to assist in addressing IPV among young people. Followed by an investigation of the engagement and key responsibilities of education service providers in the process of tackling IPV, I explored existing multiagency links, DV/IPV policies and training, including Relationship and Sexual Education.

To collect data, 13 qualitative interviews and 2 focus groups were conducted with providers in the education as well as community and youth work sectors. Thematic analysis was used to examine the data with NVIVO software.

A total of eight themes emerged from the interviews and focus groups. These themes pertained to the education service providers’ perceived roles and duties in confronting IPV in formal and non-formal education, Relationship and Sexual Education (RSE), training (or CPD for Continuous Professional Development) and collaboration. Their role in addressing IPV was referred to as educational, awareness raising and collaborative; I also discuss, in this thesis, participants’ views on who is responsible to tackle IPV in the education sector, how they tend to identify and label IPV among young people or how their response to IPV cases changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a strong need for a provision geared towards young people’s context-specific circumstances, a joined-up approach involving statutory, education and voluntary/community sectors, and a well-developed and consistent engagement in DV/IPV prevention and intervention.

The objective of this research was to develop a body of evidence capable of informing prevention and intervention strategies and policies in Northern Ireland and beyond. The study results provide recommendations for policy, practice and research surrounding multilateral approaches, gaps in post-primary education and recognising intersections for heterogeneous service provision and fit-for-purpose policy.

Thesis is embargoed until 31 December 2024.

Date of AwardDec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsEC/Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions & The SPaRK Programme
SupervisorDirk Schubotz (Supervisor) & Cathal McManus (Supervisor)


  • IPV
  • intimate partner violence
  • domestic violence
  • interpersonal violence
  • young people
  • education

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