More in-school support is needed to deal with rape culture, says school guidance counsellors
The NZ Association of Counsellors (NZAC) wants action in schools to prevent one in four girls and one in six boys from
experiencing sexual assault in New Zealand.
The NZAC wants universal access to programmes such as ‘Mates and Dates’ (ACC) in all NZ high schools.
“We have a real youth problem in this country with a rape culture,” said NZAC spokesperson, Sarah Maindonald, who is a
school guidance counsellor.
She says this problem could have been addressed if the 2013 Education Review Office (ERO) review of in-school guidance
and pastoral care recommendations had been followed.
The review found that Kiwi youth from 49 secondary schools were desperate to have trusted adults to talk to and
appropriate guidance programmes.
Guidance counsellors were named as the number one choice for students to talk to about sexual issues, family violence,
peer and family relationships, and drugs and alcohol.
“Counsellors support the ERO report and urge the government to resource those recommendations and return to tagged
funding of one counsellor to 400 students.”
Ms Maindonald says the current ratio at several large boys’ schools in Wellington and Manawatu is about one counsellor
to between 1400 and 1600 students.
Guidance counsellors regularly run guidance programmes and work alongside health teachers in the provision of programmes
in sensitive areas.
This is a positive preventative measure right under the government’s nose, Ms Maindonald says.
“You can roll out programmes, but you need specialist teachers such as school guidance counsellors to deliver them and
deal with some of the difficult issues and conversations which arise from this kind of education.”