13 Jan Violence and Youth
If you have been following the news about the Ontario Government’s changes to the Health and Physical Education Curriculum, you might be wondering, “What’s the deal?”
You might be wondering why everyone is talking about “The Talk,” healthy relationships, consent, online cyberbullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault? Terms like sexual violence, domestic violence and sexual coercion may seem very “dramatic” for the experiences you have at school, with friends, at home or in your community.
We hear that a lot. The experiences that young people have in their everyday lives don’t match the language that older people are using to describe “shady” experiences. Sometimes it’s hard for adults to listen to a young person’s experience it and not “label” it. Calling a “bad hook up or bad date” an act of violence, like sexual assault or rape, may feel really shocking. Yelling “FHRITP” at a reporter or journalist may seem funny at the time. Calling a physical argument with your boyfriend intimate partner violence could feel extreme. Forwarding a naked picture of a girl from school to friends and calling it distribution of online pornography might not be what you were intending at all – you thought it was a joke.
Did you know?
- Girls are now at highest lifetime risk for sexual assault from ages 13 to 15.
- Twice as many girls are cyberbullied than boys.
- 43% of teenaged girls are physically, or sexually, abused by a boyfriend.
- 59% of LGBTQ+ high school students reported they were verbally harassed, compared to 7% of non-LGBTQ students.
- 31% of LGBTQ+ students reported personal harassment on the internet or via text messaging, compared to 8% of non-LGBTQ students.
Letting young people know about the language of sexual violence and violence against sexuality is an important part of the new curriculum. It’s the same ideas as using the proper terms for body parts like penis and vulva, verses ‘Willy’ and ‘Woo Woo,’ to help us all clearly understand what we’re talking about. It helps people understand what behaviour hurts and why they might be hurting. Common language connects us and helps us to feel we are not alone.
Some people who have been hurt by sexual violence don’t like their experiences to be labelled or named as an act of violence. That is a normal part of the healing process and that can change over time. Sometimes you might not even know what happened, like if you blacked out from what you think could have been alcohol or drugs. We hear about this a lot too. Sometimes you feel shame from freezing-up during a traumatic experience not knowing that freezing-up is a common way your body protects itself (kind of like a deer in the headlights).
If you have been sexually hurt, worried that something has happened to you, or that you might be pregnant or exposed to a sexually transmitted disease, there are confidential services with wonderful, caring nurses you can meet with:
- Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Response Team at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre
- Sexual Health Clinic at the Peterborough County-City Health Unit
It you are ready to put words to your experience, we can help. If you want to sit quietly and reflect on your situation in a safe place, we can sit with you. If you want to know why consent is more than “yes” or “no,” we can help you understand why. Call us and let’s talk.
Crisis Line: 1-866-298-7778