Boys at an Australian school were made to “stand up and apologise to every girl for rape [and] sexual assault” at an assembly, according to pupils.
Posting on the Snapchat social media app, a schoolboy at Brauer College in Warrnambool, Victoria said that the school “made every guy stand up and apologise to every girl for rape [and] sexual assault” at an assembly.
The mother of another pupil told the Australian media she was “just absolutely horrified about my children having to stand up and apologise for something on behalf of their gender they have no control over”, in comments reported by Daily Mail Australia.
She added that her son, 12, “has no idea about rape and sexual assault and he was made to apologise and he doesn’t understand why.”
The boy, who had only been at Brauer since the start of the year, said the school “told us to stand up and turn to a girl in our class and say sorry” — even though some of the girls he was apologising to were people he had never even met.
“I don’t think it’s okay to be sexually assaulted. I felt a bit under pressure to stand up and if I didn’t I felt like I was a bad person,” said the child.
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School principal Jane Boyle confirmed that boys were indeed “asked” to “stand as a symbolic gesture of apology for the behaviours of their gender”, defending the move as “well-intentioned” but conceding that it was “inappropriate” — an outright apology appears to have been avoided.
“Schools play an important role in the promotion of safety and respect of all students, and discussions in schools around respect towards girls and women are a key part of this vital work,” she insisted in a statement quoted by 7 News.
“This week, at a whole school assembly, Brauer College discussed the topic of respect for woman and the importance of bystander behaviour and speaking up to report incidents of inappropriate behaviour.
“The assembly included the screening of a video message by Brisbane Boys’ College Captain Mason Black about being proactive in stopping incidents of sexual assault and harassment.
“As part of this discussion boys were asked to stand as a symbolic gesture of apology for the behaviours of their gender that have hurt or offended girls and women,” she admitted, adding that “In retrospect, while well-intended, we recognise that this part of the assembly was inappropriate.”
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