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Report on students' experiences of unwanted sexual contact

August 26, 2016 at 9:58 AM

National study reports on students' experiences of unwanted sexual contact; related resources

*From the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse*

A new report from the Adolescent Health Research Group based on the Youth '12 survey documents that 15% of secondary students reported having experienced unwanted sexual contact.

Youth’12 is the third Youth2000 national survey of the health and wellbeing of 8500 secondary school students in Aotearoa New Zealand. This recent report,Sexual and reproductive health and sexual violence among New Zealand secondary school students, presents findings in three areas:

  • Experience of unwanted sexual contact
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Ethnic specific information for Māori and Pacific students
The full report was contracted by ACC and the Ministry for Health. ACC also worked with Synergia to produce an accessible summary of the key findings, which includes infographics.

Key findings from the full report include:

  • 15% of all students reported an experience of unwanted sexual contact; this was higher for Māori (18%) and Pacific (22%) students 
  • Female students were more than twice as likely to experience unwanted sexual contact than male students
  • Most commonly, it was a boyfriend/girlfriend or a friend who forced an unwanted sexual experience
  • Students were over 8 times more likely to experience unwanted sexual contact perpetrated by someone they knew rather than a stranger
  • Over half (55%) experienced the unwanted sexual contact when they were 14 years or younger
  • Nearly three-quarters of male students and just over half of female stduents never told anyone
  • A small proportion (3%) reported that they had forced someone else to do sexual things; males were twice as likely to report this
  • 15% of students had been sent unwanted sexually explicit material in the last 12 months; Māori students, Pacific students, same/both-sex attracted students and students from high deprivation neighbourhoods were more likely to be sent unwanted material
  • Students who were sent unwanted sexually explicit materials were 3 times more likely to report unwanted sexual contact and 4 times more likely to report forcing someone else to do sexual things 
Young people who experience unwanted sexual contact have a range of poorer outcomes including:
  • Poorer mental, sexual and reproductive health
  • Higher rates of substance use
  • Witnessing family and interpersonal violence
  • Poorer family relationships
  • Not feeling safe at school
  • Seeing a health professional for emotional health concerns
  • Limited access to needed healthcare; living in overcrowded homes; and moving home more frequently. 
“This level of unwanted sexual contact is unacceptably high,” said lead researcher Dr Terryann Clark from the University of Auckland’s Adolescent Health Research Group (AHRG). Dr Clark also raised concerns about the high number of students who never report the unwanted contact “It is unacceptable that young people still fear judgements and blame - to be seen as ‘asking for it’, and a whole host of unwanted assumptions that pervade the current rape culture. It is no wonder they don’t tell and get the support they need."

See additional findings from the survey in the previous NZFVC story, First results from Youth '12 survey released.


Click here for additional related resouces