INDEPENDENT NEWS

Sex education programmes to combat rape culture

Published: Thu 11 Dec 2014 04:35 PM
Rape culture
Revised guidelines from the Ministry of Education for sex education in schools are expected to be released in December and they are welcomed by one of the largest providers of sex education in the country. “We provide presentations and resources on sex in more than 93% of New Zealand high schools”, says Dave Atkinson, senior presenter for Attitude Programmes for Schools.
“It is a dozen years since the last guidelines came out and so much has changed for young people. I am not that much older than the current crop of high school students but one thing that is completely different is that, through their technology, they can instantly access the opinions and experiences of millions of other teenagers. It used to be that the internet and other media allowed young people to spy on the adult world of sex; now they don’t need to reference adults at all.
“Too often, sex education for young people consists of pornography combined with the opinions of other teenagers. Of course they can learn a lot from their peers, and I see all the time that young people are more than capable of making positive decisions for their lives, but there is still a need for them to be supported by, and to learn from, the ‘big people’ in their lives – their parents, teachers and other adults who care about them.”
“Another teen can tell you that sex feels good but it takes someone with some maturity to tell you that sex can be beautiful and precious but it can also be bleak and lonely, and that sex can be powerfully positive or an absolute tragedy. Our Attitude team is part of the youth division of The Parenting Place, and even though our presenters are young and ‘cool’, their messages give the adult wisdom that parents want their kids to hear.”
There has been a lot of talk about consent in recent months – especially around the Roastbusters case – and this will no doubt feature in the new guidelines. The message of consent has been part of the Attitude message for many years.
“Consent is not just the absence of ‘No’. We have to challenge the notion that coercing someone into having sex is some sort of victory: it’s actually a tragedy and a crime. ‘Rape culture’ represents a gap in understanding masculinity and a lack of respect for women. I’m particularly proud of our male presenters who stand up in front of kids every day and don’t just tell kids about healthy, respectful relationships; they teach it as role models. They demonstrate what a good thing real masculinity is because it is not about domination and force.”
Below is an excerpt from “Sex with Attitude” resource for schools:
You always have the right to say ‘no’ to sex. It is wrong for anyone to force someone else to have sex. Not just wrong, it is illegal! If this happens to you, surround yourself with people to support you and go to the police or a rape crisis centre. One of the most important things to remember is, it’s not your fault!
Too often the messages about rape are directed at girls. There is stuff they need to know but the blame and responsibility should fall squarely with the person who is doing the harm. Some people have some really sad attitudes that need to be challenged.
•If someone dresses in a way that excites you, it does not mean they are saying, “Use my body”.
•Pushing someone who is unsure into sex is not ‘doing them a favour’ – it’s rape.
•Seducing someone into bed after getting them drunk is never okay, ever.
•“I’m not sure”, “I’m not ready”, “I would rather not” are not chances for you to convince them otherwise. It’s a chance to respect their decision.
•Seeing someone as just a body and using it to meet your own needs shows you have a huge lack of character.
•Leaving a trail of pain, shame and regret behind you should not be something to boast about to your friends but something to be ashamed of.
•Rape is a criminal offence. Seriously. Very seriously.
We know that sometimes you are horny and a refusal might frustrate you, but honestly, you spend half your life feeling horny - this is just one more time you have to sigh and deal with it. You should consider the other person’s feelings and welfare. If you ever want to stand tall, feel good about yourself and experience true love and intimacy, don’t push people into sex (and don’t tolerate others who do).
Consent
Consent is a free agreement between everyone involved in any sexual experience. Consent is about everyone being fully aware of what is happening and totally okay with it. You have not given your consent if you have been verbally, physically or emotionally forced or threatened, trapped or tricked, or if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The law also says that you are able to give consent if you are under the age of 16. Having sex with someone who hasn’t given consent is rape.
About The Parenting Place
The Parenting Place is a not for profit organisation whose mission is to positively impact families.
The Parenting Place has been in operation for 21 years, enhancing the lives of families and young people, by encouraging and strengthening parents with parenting programmes that make a difference, while being accessible, fun and inspiring. At the same time we speak to young people in nearly 100% of high schools and an increasing number of intermediate schools, encouraging healthy thinking and positive choices. When parents and their kids are positively impacted at the same time, we are really making a measurable difference in our communities.
The Parenting Place offers an extensive range of resources and courses for parents and students. Check out www.theparentingplace.com.
We help families through a wide range of programmes - Toolbox parenting groups, Hot Tips for communities, Hot Tips for businesses, Fathers' Breakfasts, The Parenting Show with Pio, Pasifika Families,Parenting magazine, Family Coaches, our centre in Auckland, Attitude Programmes for Schools, and the NYLD events. The Parenting Place is the only organisation that provides programmes for parents from prospective parents right through to 18 years of age. We are regularly called on to comment on events and activities that impact the young in this ever-changing environment.
ENDS

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