ACC takes a new line on sexual violence

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 05:00 11/07/2014

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Roleplays, comics and a dissection of controversial music video Blurred Lines are part of a new sexual violence prevention pilot in schools.

The ACC programme, aimed at reducing sexual violence and the compensation claims that come with it, will be introduced at nine schools across the country during the third term.

Called Mates & Dates, the $1 million pilot programme will involve up to 2000 year 9 to 13 students from schools including Lower Hutt's Naenae College and Makoura College in Masterton. The course consists of five 50-minute classes.

ACC sexual violence prevention programme manager Sandra Dickson said that research showed 15-24 year olds were most at risk from violence, with one in five girls and one in 10 boys reporting unwanted sexual contact or being made to perform unwanted sexual acts.

Rather than a lecture, the pilot would be interactive and include roleplaying, making comics and deconstructing music videos such as Robin Thicke's hit Blurred Lines.

"We actually know that . . . someone standing at the front of a class saying don't have relationships doesn't work.

"Something like Blurred Lines, for example . . . we'll see what messages you are getting from that and [what to not do] when you go out on a date."

The programme would encourage discussion not only about dating, but also friendships and respect. The risks of social media will make up a large portion of the classes, as it was a big part of young people's lives, she said.

"It's a real area of concern for parents, for teachers and kids themselves. They talk about receiving unwanted explicit images and how accessible pornography is."

The programme could be introduced nationally if the pilot was successful.

Naenae College principal John Russell said the school had agreed to take part as there was an obvious need for more education for young people about sexual violence.

"As a society we have to front up to the fact a significant number of young people are at risk and there's a deteriorating situation rather than an improving situation, and that's reflected in ACC statistics."

The pilot was time consuming and would have to be fitted in at the expense of another class but the school believed it was important.

Last year the national accident insurer received 4800 sexual violence claims and spent about $44m treating the victims, hundreds of them children under 14.

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