Background New Zealand has one of the highest rates of child sexual violence in the developed world. One in four girls are sexually abused before the age of 15. Maori and Pacific Island girls are at significantly increased risk compared to European girls. Most abuse occurs at home by someone that is known to them. One in seven boys may be sexually abused before adulthood. The average age of abuse is nine.
Long-term effects of sexual violence on children can be significant. Untreated, there is a strong correlation with mental health disorders and lifelong social problems. Cultural differences influence the way youth interpret and respond to sexual violence. Social and economic costs are high.
Methods Youth with lived experience were involved in co-designing a Youth Innovation Forum with the local District Health Board and Accident Compensation Corporation. Sexual violence was a focus of the day. Novel ways of communicating through youth were used, including music and theatre, to create a powerful message raising awareness. Social media was an important tool. Cultural aspects were important in designing the final product. Psychological support was available on the day to ensure safety.
Results The creative intervention was powerful. It became the focal point of the day. Following the presentation a number of youth came forward seeking help for themselves and others. Psychological support was essential to ensure safety. Feedback confirmed the value of the presentation in increasing awareness and understanding. Repeat performances and a video presentation have spread the message to wider audiences. The success of the day has ensured funding for the event next year.
Conclusions Co-design ensured the message was relevant to youth. Including youth in delivering the message increased the relevance to the audience. Social media was effective in supporting the campaign. Psychological support is essential when delivering a powerful message to a potentially vulnerable audience.
- sexual violence
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