More listening, less lecturing to young people

The new National Children’s Commissioner, Anne Hollonds, says children and young people are speaking up about their experiences of abuse and now we must act on what they say.

They do want earlier and better consent education and they want the sexist attitudes of men towards women to be addressed. This is not a new phenomenon. 

The Commission reported in 2020 on its National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces, calling for all children to receive consent education that is age-appropriate, evidence-based, and addresses the drivers of gender-based violence, including sexual harassment.

It’s not easy for parents or schools but there are no surprises here. We can’t say we didn’t know it was necessary.

Research shows that nearly 50% of 9 – 16 year-olds are already viewing online pornography regularly, and boys in larger numbers. A 2017 report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found, “Pornography may strengthen attitudes supportive of sexual violence and violence against women”.

National Children’s Commissioner

This is very challenging for many parents and schools. It’s confronting, but we must address these issues in order to keep our kids safe. 

Chanel Contos launched her petition calling for better consent in education in schools. So far it has 30,000 signatures. 5,000 victims of sexual assault have come forward with harrowing accounts of abuse across generations.

We need a serious narrative shift. We have forever put the onus on girls to avoid getting sexually assaulted. This tactic clearly doesn’t work. The only way to prevent sexual assault is to stop the perpetrators. Sexual assault existed when women weren’t allowed to show their ankles. Telling women not to show their shoulders is just as ineffective.

I am not after vengeance; I am after change. And the best way to create long-term, cultural change in a community is through education. Keep looking forward, keep making noise, keep roaring. Australia is finally listening.

Chanel Contos

The Democrats negotiated the first iteration of the Safe Schools Framework, initially to tackle the scourge of bullying in schools that was doing so much damage to children. Its later broader remit into sex education was important but conservative ideologues turned the program into a battleground and the Coalition Government defunded it in 2016. 

It’s one of the reasons why Australian women and girls are so at risk of abuse.

Photo top by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Photo by Monika Kozub on Unsplash

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