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Consent key theme in sexuality education

Friday, October 31, 2014

Media Release

Consent is a key theme in the comprehensive sexuality education programmes that we have been teaching and advocating for over many years.

Our chief executive Jackie Edmond says the organisation welcomes the decision by the Ministry of Education to update its sexuality education guidelines around consent, coercion and safety in intimate relationships.

And, she says, Family Planning would welcome the chance to bring its sexuality education expertise to the Ministry review.

Ms Edmond says we have been very clear over many years that comprehensive sexuality education programmes include issues such as what consent means, how to give consent, and how to identify an unhealthy or abusive relationship.

While cases such as that investigated during Operation Clover put the issue of sexual abuse in the spotlight, sexual abuse is a reality for many young New Zealanders.

The Youth 2012 Study (the Health and Wellbeing of Secondary School Students in New Zealand) undertaken by the University of Auckland found that 20 per cent of female respondents and nine per cent of male respondents had ever been touched in a sexual way or been made to do unwanted sexual things.

Among students who had experienced this, 37 per cent reported it was severe (pretty bad, really bad or terrible) and 57 per cent had told no-one about it.

"It is important to acknowledge this and for young people to know that sexual abuse or coercion is not ok," Ms Edmond says.

"That’s why it’s so important to start sexuality education young, so young people begin with knowing what feels ok to them and what doesn’t, and can work out what is acceptable and what is not."

In our Briefing to Incoming Members of Parliament released this week, we called for comprehensive sexuality education to be implemented nationwide.

Our briefing reminded MPs that international evidence shows that comprehensive sexuality education, including understanding the giving and receiving of consent, can delay initiation of sexual activity and unprotected sex, reduce the number of sexual partners and increase contraceptive and condom use.

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