We only need to turn the TV on or read the newspaper to see headlines about consent and respectful relationships. It is our desire to see all young people empowered, heard and respected.
It has been a troubling few weeks, as allegations of rape and sexual assault have dominated the news from Parliament house to single-sex schools in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. However, it would be naive to think that this is not a wider issue, broadly spread across our society.
Some say that schools should do more – there should be more education about consent and sexuality, more talks, more guest speakers, more strategies, more mentions in Assemblies, and more hours spent throughout the curriculum.
Some say parents should do more – it’s all the fault of unsupervised parties, failure to speak into the matters at home and relaxed attitudes to alcohol.
Others say this is an inevitable product of our hyper-sexualised society. The ubiquitous access to pornography and devices accessible 24/7, the acceptance of demeaning sexual antics on mainstream TV shows and the casualisation and devaluing of the sacredness and intimacy of sexuality expressed in appropriate relationships.
Wherever the causes lie, open, calm and confident conversations can empower children to respect their own boundaries and speak out for those who are vulnerable when they are faced with (or read/hear about) these situations.
As a Christ-centred community we want your children and our students to flourish, to live out the fruits of the Spirit, encouraging them to live a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We want them to be responsible in their decision making, experience loving respectful relationships with others and know their true worth and identity.
We are very grateful for the parents we have in our community, who are on a daily basis engaged in the substantial and significant task of helping their children to grow into maturity, and we want to encourage you in that endeavour. Please do not be discouraged by the complexities we face in our world.
We strongly encourage you to talk with your child about what they think, see and value in regards to all aspects of relationships. In addition, open communication about how we treat those who report assault needs to be encouraged, even if it might be awkward. By doing so, we are helping young people understand that as a community, we all play a role in supporting and protecting others and ourselves.
Please probe your child’s thoughts by starting a conversation which helps them clarify what is right and what is wrong; and what their personal boundaries are. Older students should be able to identify to you their support network, such as at least 1 (hopefully more) trusted adult/s to confide in.
These are all issues young people should have responses to, no matter how awkward the conversation may be.