teens

The conversation you need to have with your daughter before she starts university.

The Australian Human Rights Commission yesterday released its report titled ‘Change the Course: A National report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities’ and the unnerving results mean we need to have a serious conversation with our university- student daughters and sons.

The Report was requested by 39 universities and looked into the experiences of around 30,000 students at those institutions on the nature, prevalence and reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Overall, the research found that around half of all university students surveyed were sexually harassed at least once in 2016, with seven per cent experiencing sexual assault at least once between 2015-2016.

End Rape on Campus asked their supporters to share messages of support for survivors. (Image: Supplied)

These incidents were found to occur predominantly on campus or while travelling to or from university. Female students experienced sexual incidents up to three times more frequently than male and a significant amount knew the perpetrator in the situation. Most notably, a vast majority of students did not make a formal report or complaint.

The statistics are enough to knock the air out of your lungs.

How did we get to a situation where one in two surveyed students experienced ‘an unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours or conduct of a sexual nature’ during a single year?

The report hit a personal note when it identified residential settings as a major factor in incidents.

I have lived and worked at a university residential college for the majority of my five years as a student, providing pastoral care to students and having personally responded to critical incidents of a sexual nature.

The most difficult thing as a student, particularly one living at college, is the feeling of isolation and complete independence. In first year especially, it’s difficult to establish relationships where issues of sex, relationships and harassment can be honestly spoken about.

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If your son or daughter is currently at university or college - no matter what year - there are some awkward conversations that need to be raised.

"I have lived and worked at a university residential college for the majority of my five years as a student, providing pastoral care to students and having personally responded to critical incidents of a sexual nature." (Image: Getty)

No person or group is ever ‘cool’ enough.

While it might seem cliché, the pressure to remain liked or included in a group can be decisive in either performing the harassment or feeling as though it’s acceptable and shouldn’t be reported at university. It’s difficult to cut toxic friends out at 19 but this point needs to be pushed.

You'll never regret not sleeping with someone.

It is OK to say ‘no’ at any point of an interaction and at absolutely no point should anyone feel obliged to do anything they don’t feel comfortable with. It can be awful to be labelled as ‘frigid’ or as a ’prude’ or ‘limp’ but it’s entirely incomparable to a feeling of regret or stress.

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Don’t rely on anyone but yourself to look after you.

That sounds ‘doom and gloom’ but the report noted that a significant amount of incidents occur with someone the student knows. Make it clear that no time or place is too far to go to pick them up if they feel unsafe, ill or too intoxicated.

If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual harassment or assault, please seek help or visit 1800 RESPECT. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

As a parent, do you worry about sending your children off to university?

Tags: harassment , parenting-2 , university
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