Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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An intersectional approach to sexual violence prevention?: Young people's experiences in New Zealand

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posted on 2021-12-08, 02:25 authored by Barnes, Laura

Sexual consent programmes for secondary schools have received more recent attention within New Zealand, yet no in-depth research has examined what an inclusive programme may look like. This project assists in addressing this gap in literature, by exploring the challenges of developing programmes for diverse student populations, between 13-18 years old, which will be meaningful and impactful. This project was guided by an intersectional feminist framework and employed a qualitative approach to this work. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with ten young people who had participated in sexual consent programmes while they were in secondary school. Interviews were conducted with five key informants. All had extensive knowledge of sexual violence and experience developing and/or delivering sexual consent programmes to young people. This study found that mandatory sexual health programmes within secondary schools often maintained risk focussed approach to sexual consent education, which had a detrimental impact on young women in this study, by denying their sexual agency and reinforcing victim blaming attitudes and stereotypical gender roles. These programmes oversimplified consent negotiations and failed to consider how this process becomes more complex through the influence of social and contextual factors. The findings also revealed variation between and within the diverse identity groups of young people. Multiple programmes were found to approach consent education through a dominantly Pakeha lens and were underpinned by the assumption of heterosexuality. There are strategies facilitators could implement, such as incorporating the use of gender fluid language and the inclusion of existing value frameworks into programmes to make the content more relevant to all young people. The findings of this project assists the ongoing development and delivery of consent programmes by drawing attention to considerations facilitators should be aware of when catering to diverse student populations.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

University Library

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Social and Cultural Studies


Armstrong, Lynzi