Mossman youth speak out about consent

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Senior students at Mossman State High School have developed a set of posters to help prompt discussions about youth sexual violence and consent.

The group of students ‘Youth of Mossman Speaking Out’ worked with Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service school-based youth health nurse Wendy Fry to develop the posters for young people by young people.

The group developed nine posters using popular emojis to bring attention to the issue of sexual coercion.

The posters were developed in focus groups with year 10 and 11 students at Mossman High School and tagged by the line: “Respect, what does it feel like to you?

“The posters give the wider community an insight into the ‘secret’ language that young people use when communicating sexual desire and trying to manipulate sexual behaviours from another,” said Wendy.

“The posters represent the conversations that are happening between young people and how that links in with consent and sexual violence. They give an insight into the sexual coercion language that teens face online.

“Teens can make excuses like ‘It’s only an Emoji’ or ‘It’s only a text’ but these online messages are symptoms of attitudes and behaviours that can lead to blurred lines of consent and online sexual bullying.

“There are numerous ways people can intervene when they notice any form of disrespectful behaviour occurring, but especially that which can occur in intimate relationships and friendship groups,” said Wendy.

The posters have been distributed to secondary schools across the Cairns region as well as community organizations which support young people such as, TRUE relationships, YETI, Cairns Sexual Health Service.

The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, School Based Youth Health Service works with young people, school staff and parents in state secondary schools on student health and wellbeing.

“These posters are a result of the school’s long-term commitment to improving attitudes and behaviours of young people in our local community regarding respectful relationships,” said Wendy.

Youth of Mossman Speaking were developed using a grant from the State Government, Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women to support local projects to look at Sexual Violence Prevention.

“Over the last 10 years students at Mossman State High school have participated in programs addressing many aspects of Respectful Relationship education including issues related to consent and sexual, domestic and family violence,” said Wendy.

Other programs delivered include:

  • Love Bites by NAPCAN [with the assistance of agencies such as the Cairns Regional Domestic and Family Violence service, Mossman Community Centre, Port Douglas Neighbourhood Centre and Family Planning (now TRUE relationships and reproductive health) Cairns].
  • Traffic Lights by TRUE, learning and responding to sexual behaviours in children and young people
  • Mentors in Violence Prevention by Griffith University: educating students, teachers and community organizations that work with youth. Supported by the Rotary Club of Mossman with participation from QPS, YETI (Youth Empowered Toward Independence), Mossman Youth Centre, Mossman Justice Group.
  • RRAD (Respectful Relationships and Accepting Diversity) for all year 10 boys.