Although relationships and sexuality education is mandated in some form throughout the school curriculum, there is wide variability on the subject matter based on interpretation and levels of expertise. It is important to educate teenagers on sexual consent at an early age. Not only will this will go a long way towards helping them gain a better understanding, but it will also act as a preventative measure against any sexual abuse.
A recent report highlighted that pornography is now the “default learning tool” for many young teenagers in New Zealand who are curious about sex. Adult carers should not rely on schools to equip their tamariki with the skills, knowledge and strategies they need to negotiate healthy relationships. Adult carers need to also be proactive. It is important for teenagers to understand that consent must be explicit for any sexual activity, including kissing and touching.
Adult carers need to step-up and start having conversations with their taitamariki around sexual consent. It is not enough to assume that your teenager knows or understands what it means and the implications surrounding it. Teenagers need to learn about boundaries, enabling them to respect themselves and their partners. Talking about consent regularly will help normalise it and encourage your teenager to experience healthy relationships as they journey into adulthood.
For support in relation to some of the issues raised in this Special Report, please contact one of the following services:
Youthline: Free call 0800 376 633 or Free text 234 • HELP Auckland: 0800 623 170
TOAH-NNEST: Click here to view the National Help Lines