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Whole community approach needed to respond to sex attacks

Whole community approach needed to respond to recent sexual assaults in Wellington

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network is appalled to hear of recent attacks on women near the path from Boyd Wilson Field to The Terrace and says the whole community can be part of preventing sexual abuse.

“While it is certainly important for people to be careful when walking at night, focusing our attention on how potential victims can protect themselves puts the responsibility on the victim to prevent rape” says spokesperson for Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, Fiona McNamara.

“It is therefore encouraging to see Police, Victoria University and Wellington City Council working together to put measures in place for a safer environment for students to walk in. In addition we need cultural and behavioural change so that this kind of attack does not happen in the first place.”

All adults can play a role in preventing sexual abuse. While extra security has now been put in place in the Boyd Wilson field area, such incidents remind us all to be extra vigilant and look out not only for your friends but anyone who may be vulnerable. When out at night be aware of other people who may be at risk. If you see or hear something which may be dangerous or suspicious, contact the Police or step in yourself to offer support if it is safe to do so.

It is important not to assume that someone else will intervene as research on the “bystander effect” shows that the more people that witness a situation, the less likely anyone is to take action.

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network offers a range of programmes for professionals, and young people to develop skills to identify risky situations and strategies to intervene safely. The network also offers programmes for youth that focus on improving understanding of consent and ethical sexual decision making to promote alternatives to sexual abuse.

A short film that shows how simple it can be to step in and prevent sexual abuse is available at www.whoareyou.co.nz


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