Teachers also require skill and sensitivity to create a safe space in the classroom and break down resistance or embarrassment about discussing sexual consent.
This is a tricky space to teach, Professor Keddie said. If you bring up issues of sexual harassment and consent, sometimes boys feel blamed and shamed, sometimes its uncomfortable for boys when they realise they might have been complicit and it can bring up counter-productive emotions.
The Victorian government made the Respectful Relationships program mandatory for government schools following the 2016 Royal Commission into Family Violence. Many Catholic and independent schools have also adopted the program.
Excerpts from statement related to alleged incidents at Victorian schools, submitted to the Teach Us Consent Website
- I was sexually assaulted a number of times by a boy … in the same year level as me. I wasnt the only one that he assaulted or attempted to. When I told our mutual friends about it (all boys) I was ridiculed, made fun of and told that I made it up, even though they knew he had a history of raping other girls. Im still struggling with it five years later.
- I didnt realise until recently that I was raped in year 11 I think I was conditioned to feel that sexual assault only occurs with older perpetrators because people around my age were just exploring their hormones and experimenting. It is so important that consent is discussed before sexual activity starts and that can be so young!
- When I was 15 years old I was raped by a boy at my school who was 18. This is how I lost my virginity. We were both intoxicated at a party on a rural property, where he told me to come for a walk and assaulted me. I was barely conscious at the time, and had been walked too far in the forest to be heard/helped. While the attack itself was the most horrible thing to ever happen to me, the way I was treated by my peers afterwards was just as horrible My assault became widespread knowledge at school and was met with nastiness, bullying, and general disbelief.
- I was assaulted by two boys on the way home, I was squished in between two boys on the train and they were grabbing my bum underneath my skirt and I couldnt move, total freeze response.
Mr Evans said in his email to parents that technology had given todays teens and even tweens the power to live their lives far more in private than previous generations had.
There has understandably been a great deal of focus on schools in the commentary over the past week, he wrote. That is right and proper But this is also the moment for all parents who read this to begin the conversation with your children.
It is confronting and awkward but necessary, he said.
Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge said he had been shocked by the outpouring of anonymous testimonies of sexual assault and harassment on the website Teach Us Consent, which began as a petition by former Sydney school student Chanel Contos calling for the teaching of consent to be made mandatory in all schools.
By Thursday there were more than 2300 statements on the site, with dozens of Victorian schools in the government and non-government sectors listed in the unverified claims.
Mr Tudge told ABC Radio that the government would in coming weeks introduce a new program, called Respect Matters, to the national curriculum.
It will go from prep all the way through to year 12 and cover many of those issues around respectful relationships, around consent issues, around power and abuse, he said.
Meanwhile, detectives from the sexual offences and child abuse investigation teams in Benalla in Victorias north-east recently investigated allegations a girl was sexually assaulted at Mansfield High School on February 8.
The student was allegedly assaulted as she posed for school photographs, when a boy in the same class rubbed his groin against the girl and made a crude remark.
The incident was immediately reported to the school and police were notified on February 10.
The alleged victim and her parents decided against pressing charges, but were disappointed by the schools handling of the matter and its failure to communicate with the family.
In an email sent on February 26, the schools principal Timothy Hall said it was not appropriate to share with you any further school-based actions and consequences that were put in place.
Start your day informed
Our Morning Edition newsletter is a curated guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign upÂ here.
Adam Carey is Education Editor. He joined The Age in 2007 and has previously covered state politics, transport, general news, the arts and food.