A programme designed to promote healthy relationships to teenagers has made it to Whanganui.
Wanganui Girls' College Year 12 students were the first in the city to experience the Loves-Me-Not programme last week. The school was impressed enough that it has decided to extend it to its Year 13 students.
The programme, set up by the Sophie Elliot Foundation, teaches teenagers about what makes a healthy relationship in order for them to better identify signs of a abusive or controlling one.
The death of Miss Elliot at the hands of a former boyfriend highlighted that she had been in a typically abusive relationship, and there were signs that she or her mother Lesley had not been able to pick up on.
Aimed at Year 12 students, the day-long programme is taken by a teacher, a police officer and a representative of a family violence prevention organisation.
Wanganui Girls' College assistant principal Prabh Mokha said the school jumped at the opportunity to offer the Loves-Me-Not programme to its students.
"It's really important to ensure that young women are empowered and grow up to be empowered older women," he said. "That's the key age where students have the emotional understanding to follow the information, and it's not too late for them to be able to adapt," Mr Mokha said.
He said the programme focused on the characteristics of positive relationships, such as being collaborative, being supportive and being understanding rather than negative.
"It's about healthy relationships. What does a future awesome relationship look like? It's not a scaremongering thing."
Subjects include barriers to healthy relationships, what consent is and how to help others.
It proved popular enough for the school to decided to offer it to its Year 13s as well.
"The girls thought it was really, really good," Mr Mokha said.
Constable Paul Miller, one of two school community officers in the city, said it would become an annual programme for schools. Wanganui High School was also booked in for next term. Mr Miller said teenagers who had grown up in a household with family violence may not know what a healthy relationship was. "We see that from a police point of view by attending different incidents. This programme shows boys and girls what a healthy relationship looks like."