Consent is a hot topic in our society at present. Whilst much of the debate surrounds adult attitudes and actions, some independent schools have found themselves accused of ‘breeding’ attitudes of misogyny and entitlement, that promote poor behaviour, especially by males. It goes beyond rape though the stories recently shared by young women are highly concerning. Whilst the contemporary talk of teenage consent education is relevant, the issue is not just about lessons in behaviour but improved attitudes across our society.
Parents should be aware that mutual respect between genders has always been part of the mission of this school. It connects to our ethos and values and attitudes that adults (parents and teachers) model to our children in their formative years, supported by age-appropriate in-class lessons about respecting each other. Whilst it is not appropriate to hold sexual consent lessons for Infants students, this isn’t just an issue for adolescents and adults. Both male and female children must learn from an early age about the importance and meaning of mutual respect. Social Emotional Learning is vital at every stage of growth and the growth of skills in empathy, self and other-person awareness, listening to others, and being aware of outside feelings and care for peers, all start from infancy and the early years of school.
I believe our current school model is a good one in which to promote healthy attitudes. Boys and girls learning from one another is a feature that will assist young people to understand each gender and promote the healthy development of attitudes. Our Christian ethos also supports the Biblical concept of mutual love and understanding. Sexuality is a God given thing and we seek to empower our students to enjoy fulfilling adult lives.
I believe that it is our collective responsibility to model and talk respect and call out against the sort of attitudes that need to be challenged. We must deny sexist talk, avoid the objectification of women (and sometimes men), empower students to recognize the opposite gender in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and avoid the unhelpful media and film representations of what is healthy adult behaviour. (The ‘adult-film’ industry serves our children very poorly in this area!) That said, we must recognise the positive aspects of being male and female, that make us different, celebrating girlhood and boyhood as well. Understanding oneself will also assist in understanding others.
I also believe that parents and teachers must talk to their children, starting from very young, about respect, values, the need to talk when uncomfortable about the behaviour of others and to be assertive about what is and isn’t acceptable in peer-to-peer situations.
Whilst this topic is confronting and not easy, we owe it to our children to do all we can to promote respectful friendships, right attitudes, appropriate boundaries, empathy, care, self-control and mutual understandings as they develop relationships during the school years. It starts with lessons from the very early years. “It takes a village to educate a child.”
“God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1: 27-28
Following COVID-19 and 2020, many schools and drug educators have reported an increase in the use of Vapes, Juuls, and Stigs amongst teenagers. (If you don’t know what these are or what ‘nanging’ is, you are not alone!). Sadly, Cigarette companies are looking for novel ways to ‘pedal their wares’ amongst youth and they are being quite creative about it.
The reality is that the use of Vapes (electronic cigarettes) is growing. Below are pictures that provide a brief look at the sort of products that are being used. They look like styluses, USB sticks or even flavoured lollies. Nanging is sucking in nitrous oxide from small bottles, sometimes using balloons to do it.
Despite the fact that electronic cigarettes are illegal for Under 18s, our school has become aware of experimentation by some of our students. We are responding to educate students but also to ensure that the school community is aware that the use of these products is illegal and prohibited. Should students be bringing such products to school and/or selling them to peers, strong disciplinary action is guaranteed.
The following links provide helpful information to parents who are interested in knowing more about vaping and nanging:
The Importance of Feedback
As we approach opportunities for Parent/Teacher conferences in the coming weeks, it is helpful to be reminded about the positive impact of feedback in boosting confidence in learners and supporting healthy engagement. Teachers look forward to sharing feedback but also learning from parents. Research indicates that when parents and teachers work closely together, the outcomes are most positive for the student. I encourage parents to question what the students are doing well, as well as anything that might promote further progress. Sharing the positive with the child is constructive.
We are pleased that Covid restrictions now allow parents back on site for face-to-face contact, though we must still need to observe social distancing and other NSW Government regulations. Boarder parents should note that the first round of Secondary interviews are being undertaken face-to-face but phone appointments will be available at future events.
Parents need to be aware that the take up of interviews is very high and particularly with students in early Secondary years, so bookings are at a premium. There are three further occasions for interviews coming up. Should a particular concern require more than a short time of feedback with a teacher, please book an appointment with the best person to assist.
Principal Calrossy Anglican School