22 STYLE | promotion GIRL POWER Who better than St Margaret’s College Executive Principal, Diana Patchett, to provide a snapshot of what life’s like for tomorrow’s leading ladies. us as educators to continue the work of these early Cantabrian pioneers and push beyond where society is already. What can parents and family members do to support students on their journey? Amplify the positive messages. It can be too easy for our young people to feel overwhelmed by the challenges and the issues of global concern. Knowing and playing to your strengths, being an openminded and flexible thinker, having confidence in your own skills and abilities, practising well-developed interpersonal and collaborative skills to be able to work well with others, and perhaps most importantly, demonstrating the resilience to embrace failure as a necessary means to realising a solution to new challenges – these are invaluable life skills for all ages and ones that parents can assist with developing at home. The development of these powerful graduate attributes is intrinsic to the academic, social, physical and spiritual programmes we afford our girls. In this way, any concerns for the unknown aspects of their future can become a tailwind that propels them forward and not a headwind to hold them back. What is the biggest challenge facing educators today? It is the aspiration of St Margaret’s College to set our students up for success in all its variations for each girl. Building knowledge and understanding, resilience and adaptation to a rapidly changing world is certainly a challenge for us as we empower our young women to step into positions of leadership. Christchurch holds pride of place in the nation as the catalysing focal point for the successful 1892 suffrage petition, and Aotearoa New Zealand continues to exceed the statistics internationally for female representation in leadership. However, there is still some way to go to realising new combinations of leadership across the country and it falls to What have been some of your high points during your first year as principal of St Margaret’s? Being a girls’ school offers us a tremendous opportunity to provide an environment free from gender expectations, enabling our girls to step into any space to which they aspire and allowing them to admire the incredible diversity of talents among their female peers. Here we celebrate girls who are good with technology, girls who write poetry, girls who are fierce on the sports field, girls who bring you to tears with their musical prowess and girls who are a lovely mix of everything! Connecting with our boarding families and Old Girls at community events around the country and abroad has also been a highlight. Without fail, our Old Girls reflect the culture of encouragement that pervades SMC. They recall a school that brings out the best in all girls and has led to lifelong friendships. What would you tell your younger self, if you had the chance? Stop worrying so much about what other people think and be who you want to be, not who you think your peers expect you to be. Embrace your individuality. In the words of Coco Chanel, “A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.” stmargarets.school.nz
STYLE | education 23 NO LONGER A TABOO SUBJECT It used to be the dreaded sex talk, now experts are urging parents to talk to our children about porn. Words Juliet Speedy Pornography and its impact on children and teenagers is a large and growing issue. Research both here in New Zealand and around the world shows teenagers are watching more porn than ever. It’s affecting the way they think, act and view relationships. Although porn has been around for many years, never has it been so accessible. And on top of that, never has it been more aggressive or degrading. Australian educator Maree Crabbe is the director of Reality & Risk. She is an international speaker on the topic of porn and young people and has recently been to New Zealand giving talks throughout the country. Maree first became interested in the subject of teenagers and porn after working in schools teaching about sexuality. “Over the years I asked people where they were learning about sex, and they increasingly spoke about porn. It kept coming up as a source of education.” She realised more and more kids were watching porn and using it as their sole source of sexual education. “So, I started a three-year project. That was 11 years ago. There’s a lot more work to be done.” Maree is one of only a few people in the world educating people on this topic. Through her subsequent research, she found pornography certainly is now the most prominent sex educator for many young people. Most young people discover porn well before they encounter sex and sometimes before they have even kissed a partner. The statistics are blatant and can’t be ignored. More than 90 per cent of boys have seen online porn. More than 60% of girls have. Nearly 90% of scenes of the most popular porn include physical aggression. Maree says there’s some great work being done in New Zealand, citing particular recent research. The New Zealand Office of Film and Literature did significant research last year into young people’s porn exposure in New Zealand. They surveyed more than 2000 teenagers on how and why they view online pornography. The research found porn is a fact of life for young New Zealanders. They discovered porn influences the way young people think and act. The research also found porn is complicated and often troubling for young people and that teenagers themselves think there should be limits. Some troubling data came out of the research. One in four said they first saw porn before the age of 12, but 71% of those were not seeking out pornography when they first saw it. Some teens are watching porn regularly and the majority of that group started watching it regularly by age 14.