9 Mar 2017

Wellington school boys suspended for 'filming women teachers'

7:38 pm on 9 March 2017

A group of teenage students at a Wellington boys' school have been suspended, accused of inappropriately filming two women teachers.

St Patrick's College, Silverstream

The boys have been suspended from St Patrick's College, Silverstream. Photo: FACEBOOK / St Patrick's College Foundation

Gerard Tully, the rector of St Patrick's College at Silverstream, confirmed four Year 9 students had been suspended after a "most distressing incident of sexual harassment".

Mr Tully would not give further details of what happened, but said his absolute priority was for the safety, support and recovery of the staff members.

The students have been suspended, pending a hearing with the school board of trustees' discipline sub-committee.

The incident at the Catholic school comes shortly after Wellington College students posted comments on Facebook about having sex with drunk unconscious girls.

The posts said that doing this was a rite of passage.

One of the messages said, "If you don't take advantage of a drunk girl, you're not a true WC [Wellington College] boy."

Friends of the boys have since said the posts were jokes, but young women and students and sex education groups said similar comments could be heard every day in schools across the country.

Wellington Rape Crisis and the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network met with Wellington College this afternoon.

The Sexual Abuse Prevention Network ran programmes with some of the school's junior students, but general manager Fiona McNamara said she was not surprised by the events.

"We only work with a really small number of students, and what we are talking about here is actually something that happens a lot, in a lot of different places in New Zealand, and I think that what we really need is a huge overhaul of the culture that allows that kind of thing to happen."

Ms McNamara said her agency needed to be talking to all the students, staff and parents.

Important that message gets through - PM

Prime Minister Bill English said this afternoon it was important young men received a clear message that sexual harassment was unacceptable.

Mr English, who was head prefect at St Patrick's in 1979, said he was quite concerned about the two reports this week involving St Patrick's and Wellington College.

The two schools involved looked to be dealing with the situations responsibly, he said.

"There's always an element with people in their early teens of doing things that show bad judgement, because your judgement's not always good, but I think it's really important that those young people get a clear message that that kind of behaviour is unacceptable."

The prime minister said schools, families and communities all had a role to play in making sure the message got through.