Research aims to improve services for young people affected by sexual violence

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Auckland Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation in partnership with Tu Wahine Trust have released research aiming to improve services for young people who are affected by sexual violence.

The research report, Breaking the silence but keeping secrets: what young people want to address sexual violence aimed to identify the needs of young people aged 13 to 18 years affected by sexual abuse or assault and the pyscho-social service needs of young people who have experienced sexual abuse.

The research team carried out a literature review; interviews with refugee and new migrant stakeholders (including GPs, practice nurses, health workers and youth workers); 26 focus groups, hui and fono with young people, in which 222 young people participated; three stakeholder hui (organised by Tu Wahine); and interviews with 16 service providers and stakeholders.

The research found that while unwanted sexual contact is common - one in five female students and one in ten male students reporting unwanted contact - adolescents tend to minimise incidents and delay or do not make a disclosure or  access support. Barriers to disclosure included issues such as inexperience of the health care system, distrust of professionals including fears of loss of confidentiality and victim-blaming. The report says, "Many of the young people struggled to envisage an example where the victim would not have been responsible for what had happened and believe their parents would see them as blameworthy too". Young people were more likely to disclose to friends, often distrusting adults including school counsellors and nurses.

The report presents the young people's vision for services which is matched by very few, if any, current services in New Zealand. Among other recommendations, young people want mobile services based online or in places where young people hang out, with young staff from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Young people also wanted access to mentors and the opportunity to become mentors themselves.

The project was funded by the Lotteries Commission and the research carried out by Point Research. It was launched in Auckland on 22 November 2014.

Point Research also blogged about the research, including a media error.

Research on children, young people and sexual violence has also been published this week by the UK Office of the Children's Commissioner. This includes research on young people's understanding of consent and sexual exploitation in gangs and groups. It found evidence of sexual violence being carried out against children and young people by their peers, with some perpetrators as young as 12 or 13.

Media:

UK report finds child 'gangs' sexually abuse peers, TV 3, 27.11.13

When news stories miss the point, Point Research, 02.12.13

Abuse victims blame themselves, NZ Herald, 23.11.2013

Teens want alternatives for sexual abuse help, Radio New Zealand, 23.11.2013

Sexual abuse amongst teens goes unreported - study, 3 News, 22.11.2013