Makoura College has been named as one of nine secondary schools in New Zealand that will pilot a scheme aimed at preventing sexual violence.
The Mates & Dates programme will launch at the award-winning Masterton college next term and will involve up to 2000 secondary students across New Zealand, says Sandra Dickson, ACC Sexual Violence Prevention Programme manager.
Stopping Violence Services Wairarapa and Compass Health will be scheme facilitators at Makoura College, Ms Dickson said.
The inaugural scheme was not designed to handle the number of schools that had sought involvement, she said, so schools and providers were selected "to ensure we had good coverage across the country with different types, sizes and locations of schools to help ensure a robust evaluation of the pilot".
Ms Dickson said the eight other schools that will run the programme next term were Dargaville High School, Kelston Girls' College, Kelston Boys' High School, Papakura High School, Naenae College, Nelson College, Nelson College for Girls, and Otago Boys' High School
"To choose schools for the Mates & Dates pilot, we ran a contestable process for specialist sexual violence education providers to partner with schools they are already doing work with," she said.
"The programme will teach students how to have relationships based on respect, negotiation and consent."
Debbie Te Whaiti, Makoura College guidance counsellor, said the school was hosting the pilot as part of a successful partnership forged several years ago with Compass Health.
She said students need parental consent to be involved with the scheme, which was "consistent with our focus on building good relationships".
"The pilot is an opportunity to do more of what we want to do."
Ms Dickson said the scheme embraces several types of relationships that were relevant for all students, whether or not they were dating.
A range of tools and activities will be used on the pilot scheme, she said, which was designed to be built upon annually.
The scheme was developed by a specialist educator working with an advisory group that comprised researchers, academics, government agencies, community sector groups and specialists who already provide dating and sexual violence prevention programmes in schools, she said.
Focus groups were held with teachers, parents and students, she said, and independent researchers will evaluate the pilot.
"If successful, it's hoped the pilot can be turned it into an on-going programme available to all secondary schools."
Ms Dickson said research showed 15 to 24-year-olds were the age group at most risk of violence at the hands of their partners or former partners; and one in five female and one in 10 male secondary school students report unwanted sexual contact or being made to do unwanted sexual things.
Other prevention initiatives ACC was planning include the founding of a community co-ordinator network, and development of a framework to assess the effectiveness of sexual violence prevention programmes.
If you or someone you know needs information or help following sexual assault or abuse, contact the ACC Sensitive Claims Unit confidentially on 0800 735 566.
Or see www.toah-nnest.org.nz for information on where to seek help if you have experienced sexual violence or become concerned about harmful sexual behaviour towards others.