Waihi College has become the first secondary school in the Bay of Plenty to roll out an ACC sexual consent workshop aimed at preventing sexual and dating violence.

Waihi College principal Alistair Cochrane said the school decided to introduce ACC's Mates & Dates programme amid growing concerns about things they were hearing were happening at student parties.

"It's a way of schools ensuring that young people are doing something about their own safety," he said.

The programme had been through an 18-month trial and schools could implement it into their curriculum.


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ACC media manager Sarah Martin said the organisation hoped more schools would introduce the programme.

"Mates & Dates has its own consent model developed specifically for the programme, which runs for five sessions at Year 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13. Consent is part of the NZ curriculum but it is not compulsory for schools to deliver consent education."

Mr Cochrane said the programme was introduced to students by outside providers, not teachers.

The school was in its fourth week of the programme, and according to Mr Cochrane the course had been going "really well".

Bay of Plenty Sexual Assault Support Service CEO Kylie McKee said it was "absolutely vital" students understood the basic concepts outlined in the programme.

"You need to know right from the get-go that our bodies are our own and we get to say what kind of contact is acceptable or not," she said.

"A huge proportion of our clientele are under the age of 12, which is really sad for the region.


"Some of those are assaults by adults on children but even to know it's not okay, and they can say no, and the concept of a safe adult to go to - it's important they can have some determination over their own outcome."

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She said the organisation was keen to see Mates & Dates rolled out to other schools.

Mate & Dates:

• For more information about the Mate & Dates programme, go to: www.acc.co.nz/preventing-injuries/at-school/mates-dates
• To use the 24/7 crisis line, dial 0800 227 233

Schools running various programmes

Te Puke High School deputy principal Simon McGillivray said the school was a pilot school in the Western Bay of Plenty "Loves Me Not" programme, supported by the Sophie Elliot Foundation and the New Zealand Police.

Loves Me Not focuses on healthy (equal) relationships as opposed to unhealthy (controlling) ones.

"Earlier this year we were privileged to host Lesley Elliott, mother of Sophie Elliott, to speak to all of our senior students with her strong personal messages around relationships," he said.

The school had run the programme for the past three years for all Year 12 students.

Katikati College principal Neil Harray said YrChoice, an external programme which helped those aged 13 to 15 make informed decisions about their sexual activity, was run as well as the Loves Me Not programme.

"The people that come in are the right age, they can relate well to teenagers. There is a good serious message," said Mr Harray.

He said it was important students learned about consent, as they were exposed to different messages from sources such as the internet.

Mount Maunganui College principal Russell Gordon said through the Health and Sexual Education programme, which was compulsory in Year 9 and 10, students were taught about decision-making, setting boundaries and the law.

"My preference as a principal and a dad is the parents take part of the responsibility for discussing this with their children within that loving context, but equally the schools have the right and the duty to also fill that space," he said.

"I want my children, my three kids and my school kids to know the world in which they live. They can't be naive nor should they be saturated with it.

"(Sexual consent education) has to be a sensitive line between a theoretical understanding that is also practical and provides them with the necessary tools to navigate these developing social interactions."

Tauranga Boys' College principal Robert Mangan said: "I don't think there can ever be enough (sexual consent education) at school, society or home."

- Anna Whyte