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Sex ed shortfall

Kids missing out on vital lessons

DANIELLE STREET
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2013
Rape Prevention
LIFE LESSONS: Some Auckland teens may be missing out on sex education because of a lack of funding.

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A service that teaches teens how to develop respectful sexual relationships is reaching less than 50 per cent of Auckland schools. Reporter Danielle Street finds out why.

Most young people don't know the legal age of sexual consent is 16, the chief of Rape Prevention Education says.

The organisation has spent more than a decade visiting schools and teaching teens how to develop respectful sexual relationships.

"Most young people don't know the laws of consent and they don't know how to negotiate consent, or even that they should," executive director Kim McGregor says.

"It's really, really concerning that they lack the knowledge about the perpetration of sexual violence. They are not armed with information about how to keep themselves and each other safe."

Rape Prevention Education receives the bulk of its funding from the Ministry of Health to the tune of $320,000 a year, on a three-yearly contract.

But it's not enough to take the popular programmes to all high schools in the wider Auckland region.

The three core programmes, which consist of four modules each, cost $280 per student to run.

Dr McGregor says they are working hard to find a way to cut costs so that they can reach more people.

"We have got to find a way, because there are 120 high schools in Auckland and we are only getting into between 16 and 40 in any given year depending on our funding," she says.

"So we aren't even reaching 50 per cent of the schools in Auckland."

This year the organisation dropped two of its main programmes, Sex 'n' Respect Parties and Sex 'n' Respect Alternative Education, because it simply did not have enough money to offer them to schools.

"Realistically we need at least another $500,000 if we were to substantially reach schools in Auckand," Dr McGregor says.

Mt Roskill Grammar School has offered Rape Prevention Education sessions for about 10 years.

Head of guidance Margaret Hoogendoorn says the programmes are a real asset to the student body.

"I notice now when I discuss romantic relationships with students and I name the consent issue they have an understanding of what consent means, because it is so fully explained in the BodySafe programme," she says.

"What I really like about it is that the finger is not just pointed at the boys. It is for boys and girls both."

Ms Hoogendoorn would like to see the service get more funding so that it can continue to offer all its courses.

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"The quality of these programmes is really high and we feel really privileged to have them in our school," she says.

Historically a large chunk of the cost has been training facilitators, who up until now have been employed on a part-time basis.

Training a facilitator takes three to six months.

"Last year we hired and trained 17 facilitators and 11 of them went and got full-time jobs, so we haven't been able to retain our specialist staff," Dr McGregor says.

"So this year we are moving to a full-time model with the funding we get from the Ministry of Health, so we will only have a few educators but we will be able to retain them."

The long-term goal of Rape Prevention Education is to expand its programmes to more schools as well as provide information to parents.

"The students often say to us they don't get this information from anywhere else, and every school that we go into the students ask for more," she says.

Three core programmes run by Rape Prevention Education:

BodySafe - a series of four in-class workshops that teach young people about sexual violence and how to prevent it.

Sex 'n' Respect Parties - for students who have already completed BodySafe. It teaches positive strategies for reducing the risk of alcohol-driven sexual violence during party situations.

Sex 'n' Respect Alternative Education - 80 to 100 per cent of students in alternative education disclose sexual violence. This specialised programme is tailored to support at-risk young people.

- Central Leader

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