How we respond to the Wellington College issue IS the issue
We were saddened to hear about the harmful comments in private facebook groups involving Wellington College students this week.
To the rangatahi wāhine of Wellington and others who may feel unsafe in light of these comments, we are so sorry, that you have to hear them, defend yourselves for feeling unsafe and protest at all. Our society has failed you. We wish this never happened in the first place and we acknowledge your resilience and bravery.
We applaud the openness of Wellington College to work with the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, who will bring their excellent specialised skills to support the school to address these harmful attitudes.
Rape Prevention Education works in the Auckland region and delivers workshops on healthy relationships and consent to on average 2000 students per year. There are many organisations around the country providing sexual violence prevention education in school environments, including delivering ACC’s Mates and Dates programme which addresses sexual and dating violence. Growing and resourcing this work will support young people and the adults around them to build skills on consent and help to address harmful behaviours.
It is important to understand that young people have many factors around them which may influence their behaviour, including pornography, social media, alcohol, films, television, and advertising. However responses to the comments that excuse, minimise, justify or dismiss the behaviour based on any of these influences collude with that very behaviour.
We need to give young people the information they deserve, with clear expectations and skills to make safe decisions for themselves and others as they navigate through the world. How we follow through with our part in this is as big an issue as the harmful comments made in the first place.
For further comment or information please contact Debbi Tohill, Executive Director, Rape Prevention Education on 021 568013.
When sexual violence and harmful sexual behviour are hot topics in the media it can bring up memories or feelings for people about any experiences they might have had. If you want to talk to someone or get help find, there is services nationwide that you can call. Check out this list here.