The New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) is backing calls for more sexual consent education in schools.
President Robyn McGill says young people need to learn their rights and responsibilities as early as possible.
“While parents have a critically important role to play in this kind of education – and must be actively involved – schools should also contribute so that our young people are receiving these messages from these two important influencers,” Ms McGill says.
“A key part of this message must also focus on ‘expectations of entitlement’ – one gender does not have a ‘right’ to expect sex without consent.”
According to Auckland University’s Youth 2012 survey 45 per cent of students surveyed say they currently use alcohol.
The same survey showed 12 per cent had had unsafe sex and five per cent had had unwanted sex as a result of drinking.
The NZAC wants education around sexual consent closely aligned with moves to promote alcohol management messages to young people.
“Addressing the alcohol abuse problem among young people will reduce the risk of sexual abuse,” she says.
Ms McGill says school students frequently raise sex-related and sexual abuse issues with school guidance counsellors, who are often seen as a non-judgemental first port of call for distressed young people.
“School guidance counsellors are also, often involved in coaching students with relationship skills.
“They are a specialist and trained resource available to support teachers and parents to deliver these messages that should be part of an holistic education programme aimed at providing young people with better social skills and awareness of gender roles and how to relate positively to each other.
“It’s much more useful and positive to provide positive, proactive and supportive education around these issues and to focus on prevention.”