Year 9s at St Patrick's Silverstream suspended over sexual harassment of staff

Rector Gerard Tully has confirmed the suspension of four year 9 students at St Patrick's Silverstream for inappropriate ...
FAIRFAX NZ

Rector Gerard Tully has confirmed the suspension of four year 9 students at St Patrick's Silverstream for inappropriate filming of female staff members.

Four year 9 students have been suspended from a Wellington boys' school for a "most distressing incident of sexual harassment" towards two female staff members.

Confirmation of the incident at St Patrick's College, Silverstream, came a day after Wellington College students were revealed to have posted derogatory comments about women on Facebook. 

St Pat's Silverstream rector Gerard Tully confirmed the incident, which involved inappropriate filming of the women.

A screenshot of posts that were written in a private Facebook group by Wellington College students.
SUPPLIED

A screenshot of posts that were written in a private Facebook group by Wellington College students.

He said the students involved had been suspended from school, pending a hearing with the board of trustees' discipline sub-committee.


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The school's priority was for the safety, support, and recovery of the staff members involved.

CHECKPOINT/RNZ

An investigation has been launched after Wellington College students posted comments on Facebook encouraging fellow students to take advantage of girls when they're drunk.

Meanwhile, the father of one of two Wellington College boys involved in the sexist Facebook posts said on Wednesday how he and his wife were devastated by their son's behaviour.

One post said simply "f... women", while another said "If you don't take advantage of a drunk girl, you're not a true Wc [Wellington College] boy." 

"My greatest fear is that we don't bring up our kids well," the father said. "This is why this came as a bit of a shock for us, obviously we thought we were doing a better job than that."

Fiona McNamara, general manager of the Sexual Abuse Intervention Network, said: "People doing or saying these things are ...
KEVIN STENT/ FAIRFAX NZ

Fiona McNamara, general manager of the Sexual Abuse Intervention Network, said: "People doing or saying these things are a product of a society where this behaviour is normalised."

His son, whom he described as "one of the nicest, and most polite, boys you'll probably ever meet", was facing serious consequences at home.

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The teen was distraught, but his father likened it to a speeding driver being distressed at hitting someone, saying they should not have been speeding in the first place.

The father suspected the comments on the private Facebook group page had been stirred up by rivalry over the McEvedy Shield, an annual athletics event between St Patrick's Kilbirnie, St Patrick's Silverstream, Rongotai College and Wellington College, held on Tuesday.

Wellington College headmaster Roger Moses said he was appalled by the Facebook posts.
CRAIG SIMCOX

Wellington College headmaster Roger Moses said he was appalled by the Facebook posts.

He believed the students got into a situation where they were all trying to come up with the most horrible thing to say.

"I'm not sure how it got to drunk women, I don't know how it got down that route," he said. "It's mind-boggling our kids would think like that, especially when we think they come from good homes."

A special assembly took place at Wellington College on Wednesday for all year 11, 12 and 13 boys to discuss issues arising from the incident, and the school's leadership team was still investigating the incident. 

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network (SAPN) general manager Fiona McNamara, who has worked with year 9 and 10 boys at Wellington College for the past two years about consent and healthy relationships, will be meeting with college leaders again on Thursday to discuss the recent events.

Attitudes towards sexual violence needed a cultural overhaul, she said. 

What had happened at the two schools were not things that could be shrugged off as "boys will be boys", or as an exception to the rule. 

"People doing or saying these things are a product of a society where this behaviour is normalised," she said.

"I don't think this is something we can be laughing at ... we need to deal with it really seriously, and put a lot of energy into making sure it does not happen again." 

Having heard some of the views expressed in class, she was not surprised by the content of the Facebook comments.

"It is disappointing, we've been in that school working with year 9 and 10 students, but that in itself is not going to change a whole culture. Positive messages need to come from different people, and different directions."

Wellington College headmaster Roger Moses, who said he was appalled by the posts, did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

 - Stuff

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