“Mates& Dates”: Educating College Students to Prevent Sexual Abuse

Challenge 2000, ACC and SAPN together recently facilitated a “Mates & Dates” multi-year programme at Mana College. It was taught to Years 9-13 in weekly 50-minute sessions over the course of five weeks.

Jan Love and Molly Lyons, Challenge 2000’s social workers, are based at Mana College and know first hand how important the SAPN’s work is. They explain: “Mates & Dates is run in the schools’ health classes, it’s completely free and it’s meant to get the message out there at a younger age, rather than waiting till university age. Sometimes young people just don’t know what is appropriate, especially in areas where there are high statistics of sexual violence and many kids may have grown up with it.” Having Challenge 2000 social workers, a whanau worker and Youth Workers attend these classes with the students allow support to be there if memories are triggered and the students find the input challenging.

Molly gave an overview of the programme – “We start by talking about various aspects of sexual violence and how to prevent it, what a safe relationship is and what it isn’t, what is friendly and what’s more than friendly.” Recent reports stemming from surveys conducted by New Zealand Union of Students Associations (NZUSA) have shown that there are many students, predominantly female, within tertiary education throughout the nation who say that they feel unsafe on campuses. “We are working to change that for our future generations of students,” Ms Lyon continued, “by educating our kids early on and helping them get rid of any unhealthy views about their own sexuality or gender roles in general which they might have been exposed to and have taken on themselves.”

Challenge 2000 Mana Social Worker Jan says “that this programme was valuable and the students were very receptive to the input. It also resulted in follow up and open and frank discussion with some students”.

Nina Ness our Social Work Practice Manager says “The success of this programme will hopefully lead to Challenge 2000 partnering with other colleges and community groups to ensure young people can have healthy and positive, life giving relationships.”

If you have questions, or if you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, or if you would like to support the network and/or start integrating the courses into your curriculum, please don’t hesitate to contact SAPN in one of the following ways:

For 24 hour crisis support in Wellington, contact Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation on (04) 801 6655. For all other enquiries call us on (04) 801 8975. You may also contact the programme coordinator by e-mailing info@sexualabuseprevention.org.nz.