Thousands of incidences of sexual abuse involving private school students have been detailed on a new website after an online petition went viral.
Chanel Contos, 22, has collected the testimonies of more than 4,000 students in recent weeks who claim they were abused at the hands of boyfriends or older boys.
The chilling stories emerged after she launched a petition demanding improved sex education in private schools.
She was overwhelmed by harrowing accounts from across Australia – forcing her to launch teachusconsent.com to make them public for the first time.
The parents of some private school students have since spoken out about a culture of entitlement and privilege.
Some revealed they had moved their children to the public system in response.
Former Kambala High School student Chanel Contos has collected testimonials from thousands of private school students who say they were raped and assaulted by their male peers
One parent said they had pulled their children out of St Catherine’s and Cranbrook and sent them to public schools instead because of ‘cultural issues’.
Another father of a Year 9 student at Kings School in Parramatta said elite schools cultivated a culture of entitlement and privilege – which makes them less sensitive to others.
Among the first of the 1,500 testimonies to be uploaded to the website include claims by a former student at Carey Grammar School in Melbourne who said she was raped when she passed out at a party.
‘I thought I’d be safe as the host went to my school. Instead he came in and got into bed with me,’ the account read.
She said the boy digitally penetrated her despite her telling him to stop, before his friend joined in – with both later spreading rumours about her at school.
‘When I told my ex-boyfriend a few years later he told me I asked for it and shouldn’t have laid down,’ she wrote.
A website was launched by Ms Contos overnight detailing the stories of sexual abuse from more than 1,500 students and former students
Ms Contos plans to upload thousands more stories to the website in a bid to ‘expose the rape culture in our society’
‘There’s so much wrong to this story.’
Ms Contos said she planned to upload the rest of the stories sent to her in the near future, saying it ‘will expose the rape culture in our society’ and ‘help the cause’.
A student at another Melbourne private school – Firbank Grammar School – said on the website she passed out after a night of drinking at a ‘party of about 500 people’.
Ms Contos said many school-aged boys often didn’t even realise what they’d done constituted sexual assault
‘I don’t remember anything but the next day I found an Instagram picture of me passed out next to my vomit with a guy I don’t know with his hands up my dress,’ she said.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Firbank Grammar School and Carey Grammar School for comment.
The fresh testimonies come as government figures revealed school students were paid nearly $40million in compensation after being sexually assaulted over the past two decades.
More than $30.6million has been paid to 131 survivors who were assaulted before 1989 Pictured: Ms Contos, who said she was forced to perform oral sex on a boy
The data follows more than 2,000 young women sharing harrowing stories of sexual abuse at the hands of their first boyfriends or older schoolboys after a petition calling for better sex education in schools went viral.
New South Wales Department of Education figures showed the state government paid $9.4million to 40 survivors in 2019 after time limits on reporting sexual assaults were lifted three years earlier.
President of The Blue Knot Foundation Dr Cathy Kezelman said compensation helps ‘acknowledge’ crimes of childhood sexual abuse – while not making up for it
The total given to victims in 2019 is more than double the $4.4million paid in compensation in 2016 before the law was changed.
Three-quarters of the compensation paid in the last 20 years was given to 131 survivors who were assaulted before 1989.
Childhood trauma charity The Blue Knot Foundation welcomed the payouts for recognising the trauma of students who had been sexually assaulted at school.
‘Compensation does not make up for a childhood betrayed but it can be an acknowledgment of the crime committed,’ the charity’s president Dr Cathy Kezelman told The Daily Telegraph.
The latest data conducted by La Trobe University in 2018 suggests 23 per cent of students in grades 10 to 12 (ages about 16 to 18) have had some form of unwanted sexual contact.
Ms Contos said Kambala High School (pictured) gave her a ‘great consent education but they gave it too late’
Jacqueline Hendriks, who runs Curtin University’s sexology curriculum, said young people need to be taught how to have ‘really positive, enjoyable sexual relationships’ in school.
‘At the moment, schools can get away with doing the bare minimum,’ Dr Hendriks said.
‘We need to keep up with the times… Ideally, we want to teach young people to have really positive, enjoyable sexual relationships.’
Ms Contos’ petition went viral and has thousands of signatories – most of whom detailed their own shocking experiences of abuse
Ms Contos believes earlier education in schools and at home would be beneficial for both boys and girls
How to introduce the concept of ‘consent’ at a developmental age
Dr Hendriks says sex education is important at any age – as long as it is age appropriate.
Children start learning about the human body during primary school, and by grades five and six, they should be entering early discussions about puberty, to align with changes happening to their own bodies.
The next step, starting from early high school, is to begin discussing sex. But Dr Hendriks says it is never too early to learn the meaning of consent.
KINDERGARTEN TO YEAR FOUR
While students in this age group mightn’t necessarily be using the word ‘consent’, they should be learning about the necessities of giving and gaining permission.
A kindergartener might be taught that they must ask to use a toy if another student is already playing with it, or ask to borrow colouring in pencils.
Similarly, students are taught they have the right to say no to these requests. If a child is enjoying playing with a certain toy, they do not have to grant permission to another child to use it simply because they asked nicely.
As students get older in this age bracket, they are taught that it is okay to not want to hug or kiss a family member, that they can say no to certain requests among peers on the playground and that they have the autonomy to make their own choices.
YEAR FIVE AND YEAR SIX
The final stages of primary school are when students are generally given lessons on puberty, how our bodies change and a more thorough look at the differences in male and female anatomy.
Students are more likely to ask questions about the human body and discussions around consent and choices become more practical.
Dr Hendriks says high school students should be taught via a ‘sex positive’ education program which reminds them (at an age appropriate level) of all the benefits and ‘positive’ outcomes of sex.
She said current curriculums tend to focus heavily on the negatives like sexually transmitted infections and early pregnancy, while not touching on why so many people have sex in the first place.
Students ‘want to learn more about relationships, falling in and out of love and moving on’ instead of focusing wholly on the repercussions of the activity itself.
Schools must also ensure they are being inclusive in their sex education, which is something that ‘can be improved across the board’ she says. In particular, classroom discussions still tend to be heteronormative, which mightn’t be as beneficial for every person in the classroom.
Ms Contos has said she believes earlier education in schools and at home would be beneficial for both boys and girls.
Consent itself should actually taught in an implicit way in classrooms from kindergarten right through to senior years, Dr Hendriks said.
Children mightn’t be taught the word itself, but they’re told to ask permission to use another person’s belongings, and taught that it is okay to say no to somebody – whether it be a family member or friend – if they’d like a hug or a kiss.
As students get older and health lessons skew more to the ‘birds and the bees’, Dr Hendriks explained it’s important to make these conversations more explicit.
Chantel Contos’ petition now has signatures from former and current school students across Australia
‘Students need to be taught it’s not simply a case of ”yes” or ”no”. People must be actively and enthusiastically engaging for consent to be given,’ she said.
RAPE AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN AUSTRALIA
– There were 374 juvenile sexual assault cases reported in NSW in 2020.
– Chanel Contos gathered thousands of rape and sexual assault testimonies from private schoolgirls.
– About 38 per cent of women aged 18 to 24 have experienced sexual harassment.
– 66 per cent of 14-year-old boys have been exposed to sexual material within the last 12 months.
– 72 per cent of children between 14 and 17 have been exposed to porn in the past six months.
– About one in five Australian women have experienced sexual violence.
– Only 28 per cent, or 14,994 cases, of alleged rape victims come forward in NSW.
– Only three per cent of rapes reported to NSW Police in 2018/19 ended in a conviction.
– About 346 cases were withdrawn.
Source: ABS and NSW Police
‘It’s not just stumbling forward and into something and hoping the person doesn’t say no.’
Among the 2,000 first hand experiences detailed by young women in the petition, many had startling similarities.
They detailed how boys their age – or a few years older – would pressure them into sex or force themselves on young girls who were blackout drunk at parties.
‘I woke up in an ex-Cranbrook boy’s bed with him on top of me and his friend lying next to me as they both took turns having sex with me. I was drunk and have no recollection of how I got there,’ one young woman revealed.
‘One night after a party we were hooking up, I made it really clear I didn’t want to have sex yet (never had before) and woke up to him a few hours later on top of me. I bled for a few days after that. When ever I’d see him at parties after that he’d have a big smile on his face, come up and say hi like nothing happened,’ another said.
Dr Hendriks said while there are no excuses for sexual assault, she does agree some of the young boys discussed in the petition mightn’t have realised they had commit a crime.
‘I understand how some young males could get confused. If they’re not seeing active consent on their television screens, or being taught it at home or at school, they might just assume their partner is into it because she hasn’t verbalised anything,’ she said.
‘But now, all people need to understand that societies expectation is active consent, and they must check in to ensure consent.’
Dr Hendriks worried increased exposure to pornography could also be impacting behaviours and expectations.
‘Pornography is a big issue. If they’re not getting adequate information at school or at home, they’re getting it from somewhere, and a lot of the time that’s online.
‘Studies show 80 to 90 per cent of pornography is really violent, aggressive, there is minimal communication let alone explicit consent. The safe sex practices like condoms aren’t really prevalent and anal sex is quite popular.
‘If that’s what they’re digesting online and that’s what they think sex is, then they’re more likely to try to be more aggressive or perform violent acts.’
The flip side to that, Dr Hendriks said, are the young men who actively avoid ‘asking the question’ because they think they’re entitled to sex or see it as a ‘conquest’.
Several schools prominently featured among the confessions – including $38-a-year Cranbrook School and The Scots College, have vowed to do better to teach their male students.
If this story has raised issues for you, please contact 1800 Respect 1800 737 732, Lifeline 13 11 14, beyondblue 1300 224 636, Domestic Violence Line 1800 65 64 63
SCHOOL RESPONSES TO THE PETITION
St Catherine’s School
Headmistress Dr Julie Townsend said the testimonials were ‘heartbreaking’.
‘It is clear from these girls’ testimonies that many of them have suffered in silence for years, and we need to ensure that, not only do they understand what assault is, but know their rights in reporting it and charging someone,’ she said.
Principal Shane Hogan said he will give information to parents about consent and respectful relationships.
‘[We are] commending the bravery of the young women to call out this behaviour and calling on any Kambala girls or old girls who have experienced this to contact us to access our on campus counselling support and support.’
Brisbane Girls Grammar School
Principal Jacinda Euler said ‘the accounts published are extremely distressing’.
‘They graphically highlight the need for us all to do more. There must be a determination to ensure that the stories of these girls and young women bring about urgent collaborative change,’ she said.
Principal Nicholas Sampson said schools ‘need to take further action’ and pledged to review of the school’s pastoral care, including holding mixed gender education programs.
‘All of us at Cranbrook need to be grateful for the courage of these young women in speaking out,’ he wrote, linking to the petition. ‘Society makes it very hard to raise issues of this type.’
Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview
Principal Dr Paul Hine said the school ‘fully supports’ the allegations against students being referred to the police.
‘Non-consensual sex is a crime and this message is given unequivocally to our students as part of their education,’ he said.
The Scots College
Dr Ian Lambert, wrote to parents and said the school would review its education programs.
‘It is a wake-up call for us all,’ he said. ‘They are to be commended for their bravery in standing up and speaking out.
Sexism is an everyday reality for women, and it absolutely should not be,’ Principal Graham Leddie said.
‘Often it’s the seemingly small acts that are overlooked, dismissed or ignored. “Boys will be boys”, shouldn’t mean what it does in Australian culture.’
Brisbane Boys College Brisbane
‘The content of the petition is concerning and a stark reminder of society’s collective responsibility to educate young men and women on the topic of consent,’ Headmaster Paul Brown said.
Source: Daily Mail Australia | World News