What you don't know can hurt you. Or hurt someone else.
We would feel better about the world if we didn't know our girls were targets of threats, harassment and sexual assault. But these things happen with such frequency, many young women brush them off as habitual acts of idiocy or cruelty by boys and men.
NZME earlier this week ran a story about a survey out of Christchurch Girls' High where more than a quarter of girls reported being sexually harassed more than 10 times. More than 20 students say they have been raped.
The school commissioned the survey after girls raised concerns.
It was sent to 1042 consented students and 725 participated. That's a response rate of 71.2 per cent - phenomenally high compared with the average response rate of around 30 per cent for a survey.
Fifty-nine per cent of participants noted they had been harassed.
Harassment included verbal, space and written harassment, and physical or sexual contact.
Sexual harassment was most likely to happen outside school and around town. Online incidents were also common.
The survey found men constitute 91 per cent of the identified sexual harassers, including young men the same age as the students and older men.
It makes me sad and angry to know that many people won't take these numbers seriously. "They're making it up," some will say. "Overreacting!"
These are the same folks who stick their fingers in their ears, literally or metaphorically, when anyone talks about rape culture.
They are, I suspect, the same people who have never listened to a tearful friend talk about how she was assaulted by a stranger or a date; they've never heard the frustration of women whose harasser holds the purse strings at work; they surely haven't ridden a crowded city bus overseas and felt a strange man's erection poking their back. This unbidden, illegal awfulness happens every day. Overwhelmingly, it happens to females.
So of course, it's also happening to our girls in the Bay and across Aotearoa.
Another Christchurch school principal interviewed told NZME, "We are saddened but unsurprised by the survey results released yesterday."
I talked to my own teenagers about the report. "If it's happening in Christchurch, it's happening here, too," I said. It happens everywhere. Ask any woman, she'll tell you - if she trusts you.
Precious few of us have no connection with sexual harassment, assault, domestic violence and online trolling.
Master 15 said, "None of the girls I know have said any of that happened to them."
Miss 17 replied, "That's because you're a boy and they won't tell you."
Even if my teens have so far evaded sexual harassment or abuse, I can't be naive and imagine it will never happen to them, especially to my daughter.
We have talked about consent, about the way teenagers with immature frontal lobes possess even less sense when they're dopey with booze.
I warn them about parties and bedrooms and tell them to look after their friends. I'm grateful their school has reinforced these lessons, with programmes like Loves-Me-Not. But I feel it'll never be enough.
Not when cyberspace is teeming with misogynists who tailor messages to young men. Not when our culture still commodifies and shames females of all ages because they're not pretty enough. Or too pretty. Not sexy enough. Or too sexy.
Less than 10 per cent of the girls in the Christchurch survey got any support or help. None of the 20 rapes had been reported to police at the time the research took place. Three Christchurch Girls' High School students have since laid complaints about sexual offences.
Some people claim women are making up this stuff. While there have been instances of false reports, we know from surveys and data over decades that most rapes and sexual harassment go unreported.
The New Zealand Ministry of Justice estimates fewer than 10 per cent of sexual offences were reported to police.
Victims are ashamed. They're threatened. They're scared. Girls are socialised from birth to be compliant and not rock the boat.
There's also denial, as in, "I'm a strong female. How could this happen to me?" Victim blaming and shaming are two more ways we jam our fingers in our ears, saying, "Nah, nah, nah …" We don't want to hear it.
My kids don't want to talk about any of this. Neither do I. But I wasn't rapt about changing their nappies as babies, putting them to bed 20 times a night as toddlers, or breaking up innumerable fights since forever.
As parents, or as people who want to love and nurture our young people, we must do hard things. Sometimes the hardest thing is recognising that despicable behaviour is happening under our noses.
Christchurch head girl Amiria Tikao told NZME she is not surprised by the survey results as she and her peers live with sexual harassment every day – and have for years.
"The behaviours that were identified have been pretty normalised, especially throughout my past years at high school. So when I read the survey, it was nothing I hadn't known before."
As one MP pointed out, full responsibility for the harassment and assaults lies with the perpetrators.
Girls (and women), it's not your fault. Boys (and men), you can do better. We shouldn't need surveys and a social uprising to try to convince people to behave decently. Sadly, we do.
Where to get help:
• If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
• If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline Safe to Talk on: 0800 044 334 or text 4334.
• Alternatively contact your local police station.
• If you have been abused, remember it's not your fault.