Programme about safe relationships welcomed

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A safe and healthy relationships programme designed to help young people identify a safe relationship has been rolled out in schools.
Year 12 and 13 pupils at Northern Southland College and St Peter’s College have recently taken part in the Loves Me Not programme.
The programme was set up by the Sophie Elliott Trust Foundation.
Sophie Elliott, of Dunedin, was killed by her former boyfriend, Clayton Weatherston, in 2008.
Her mother, Lesley Elliott, began the foundation to prevent violence against women by raising awareness about the signs of abuse in dating relationships.
Senior Constable Fenton Herrick, of Invercargill, said the programme covered ways of identifying the signs of a healthy relationship and what made a healthy relationship so young people did not get trapped.
The programme also looked at the bystander effect and what a bystander could do, Snr Const Herrick said.
‘‘Someone will be aware and know they can step up,’’ he said.
The programme, which involved 62 pupils, was held last Wednesday. It concluded with pupils coming up with ideas of how they could present it to the rest of the school.
The book Loves Me Not, written by Mrs Elliott and William O’Brien, was also a good resource on the topic, he said.
St Peter’s College deputy principal Darren Jack said they heard about the national programme and how valuable it was through other schools.
‘‘We did our best to get our name on the list to have it here,’’ Mr Jack said.
The school had run programmes about bullying and relationships but not one inspired by a real-life event.
‘‘It’s got real depth and power and it’s also aimed for kids at the age beginning that relationship journey,’’ he said.
Northern Southland College pastoral dean Sarah Cairns said the programme, which was run by New Zealand Police, was incredibly valuable to pupils in their last years of secondary school.
‘‘The skills our students learnt were valuable,’’ Mrs Cairns said.
The programme, which took place late last month and involved about 40 year 12 and 13 pupils, allowed them to discuss and share their ideas of an unsafe relationship, she said.
It also outlined situations that seemed safe.
‘‘It gave them skills to look at things from another angle and different skills with how to deal with different scenarios,’’ she said.
She was looking forward to it returning to schools next year.