Teenage is a crucial time in the life of students. That is the time when friendships and relationships proliferate and tensions exert stress on the mental health. Adding to it will be incidents of sexual violence from relationships or dating.
Such problems are having a solution at the New Zealand Governments' Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) sponsored project for schools. Named as Mates & Dates, the new ACC's initiative is on a trial at many schools, including the Papakura High School. The school is in South Auckland.
Under the project, students know how to prevent dating violence by cultivating healthy relationship skills and behaviur patterns. The programme is being piloted in three sessions in all the seven classes.
Vulnerable Age Group
ACC statistics showed that teenagers in the age group from 15 to 24 are the most risk prone in terms of violence by current as well as ex-partners. The stats claim that one in five female and one in 10 male secondary school students have issues about unwanted sexual contacts or external compulsion for sexual things. About 37 per cent of the students even described unwanted activity and 57 per cent said they were told not to tell anyone.
Student Response Great
The project director, Russell Smith, said the response from students has been great, and those who were aloof initially are taking notes at the second or third sessions.
The programme teaches healthy relationships, consent and how to be safe. Fellow director Joy Te Wiata said the programme encourages students to apply the lessons in all areas of their lives and help others when they are in danger.
Wiatea called the programme corageous as it makes discussions about sexual violence very candid and explicit. The messages are simple yet important.
Check on Sexual Violence
Sandra Dickson, sexual violence prevention programme manager of ACC, said the lessons will apply to all relationships, and the organisation will help people to tackle experiences of sexual violence. Dickson said it has been playing a key role in supporting people to deal with the effects of sexual abuse or assaults.
Mates & Dates will equip the students with skills to make a transition safe and they can carry them throughout their lives.
ACC Minister Judith Collins visited the Papakura school to catch up with the programme's progress. The minister hailed the project as a "fantastic step in prevention of violence".