Compulsory Consent Education Petition

Since I was young I have been heavily involved within White Ribbon fundraisers, activities, and awareness campaigns due to my dad’s position as a White Ribbon Ambassador. Growing up alongside my father supporting White Ribbon, I learned about the values, and the policies that White Ribbon supports. As I became a teenager, however, the policy and theory became reality as I watched some of my peers struggle with gender inequality, relationship violence, and family violence. At this point, it really hit home just how incredibly important it is to work together to support positive change at a government as well as a local level.

Over the years, I’ve continued in this journey, and also branched out, getting involved in many different charities supporting people in need, and agencies to introduce policies to support this end. I’ve gotten involved in running/joining groups and activities that I see great meaning in, such as Girl Up, World Vision, Youth Council, and more, each in their own way fighting against injustice, and I believe my love for these stems from being educated on related social justice topics growing up.

Nina Adams with her petition to make sexual consent education compulsory

Last year, my school was one of many in New Zealand to have the Loves Me Not project run over the course of a day. This is an initiative to help educate year 12 students about safe and respectful relationships and during the day, each classroom has counsellors and police officers there to answer any questions students have. I found this program to be very informative and interactive, but myself and other year 12 students at the time felt that a lot of the information we were learning should have been taught to us at an earlier stage. In order to combat this, a teacher at our school set up a student-led group (Healthy Connections) that would work together to brainstorm ways we can help provide younger students of the school with the vital information that this program taught to us in different ways. 

Early this year when doing background research for Healthy Connections, I came across some articles from 2017 and learned that Sexual Consent Education wasn’t mandatory in New Zealand secondary schools. I decided to do some more research regarding the topic and found multiple articles written in outcry of this, as well as references to a protest towards parliament pushing them to resolve the issue. After asking around, I discovered I wasn’t the only one who was unaware of this. Most people in my year group that I knew thought that it was mandatory to teach this topic, as we had gone over it at my school. 

Having spoken with my peers, I know personally of young people who have been in situations that have made them feel unsafe, and where they have sometimes struggled to believe that it was okay to say no and to have their voices heard. After speaking with some friends I have at different schools around Aotearoa, I found there was a lack of awareness about the subject, as well as a lot of schools that declined to teach it. This is the main reason why I saw a need to create this petition. 

The purpose of this petition is to not only help educate people, but also to push the Government to make it mandatory for all New Zealand secondary schools to add the topic of Sexual Consent into their curriculum. After posting my petition, I had a few comments and messages from people telling me this is a topic that parents need to teach their children, not teachers. Comments like these just made me think back to my previous statement; not everyone has role models growing up that will teach them about Sexual Consent. To quote a section of the petition: “Research shows that sexual abuse towards young people is most likely to be perpetrated by a family member and that many young people will experience and/or witness family violence at home. This would indicate that the government cannot rely on family members to teach this kind of information, when they themselves may in fact be the perpetrators.”. 

From this petition, I hope to in the short-term, raise more awareness for the fact that this isn’t a topic that is taught to every student in Aotearoa; why should people be expected to practice what they’re not taught? As for long-term effects, I’m hoping that with community support, there is a chance for a real, impactful change to the education system that will benefit the future of Aotearoa.

Sign the petition now.

White Ribbon also plays a role inspiring youth leaders through their White Ribbon Youth Leadership Programme (YALP). This is a free full day workshop with speakers that help senior students to understand the drivers behind family violence, how that manifests in real life, societal pressures that create unhelpful masculinity and behaviour, and finally how to take action in your own schools. This year due to covid, the workshop will be a half day online free event on Friday 27th of May. You can register or find more information here

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