ACC to take lead in sex education

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 05:00 15/03/2014

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ACC is stepping boldly into the minefield of sex education, amid claims that schools are failing to teach teens how to say "no".

The national accident insurer received 4800 sexual violence claims last year and spent about $44 million treating the victims.

Hundreds of claims come from children under 14.

In an effort to reduce sexual violence - and the big compensation bill that comes with claims - ACC wants to fund pilot "healthy relationship" programmes in a handful of secondary schools, with a view to introducing them nationwide.

Rape Prevention Education executive director Kim McGregor said there were "huge gaps" in high school sex education, with the focus leaning towards biology and health rather than relationships.

Many teenagers displayed a shocking ignorance about sexual violence, and even blamed the victims, she said.

"Most of them don't know there is such a thing as consent. There is just an assumption that you have to take part in sex."

Last year's Roast Busters case, in which young men allegedly had group sex with drunk teenage girls and bragged about it online, pointed to a culture of passive acceptance of sexual violence. "That they even felt comfortable putting that on social media is a huge concern."

ACC minister Judith Collins said sexual violence led to mental health problems, poverty, addiction and suicide. "Encouraging a culture of respect is one of the most effective ways we can help to prevent sexual and dating violence."

ACC sexual violence prevention programme manager Sandra Dickson said relationship education in schools was "inconsistent", and a reliable national programme was needed. ACC was taking the lead because it had the resources and the capability.

ACC's intervention comes as sex education in schools is coming under increasing fire. A parliamentary select committee inquiry last November criticised the quality of sex education, linking it to the high rate of teenage pregnancy.

Responding to the report last week, the Government said the Ministry of Education would review its sexual education guidelines this year.

Family Planning health promotion director Frances Bird said some schools had great sexual education programmes, while others were not good enough.

The pilots are scheduled to run in the third term of this year.

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- The Dominion Post

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