Calls for schools to teach young men about healthy masculinity after survey reveals hundreds of Christchurch Girls' High students sexually harassed

There are calls to include healthy masculinity in the school curriculum after hundreds of students at Christchurch Girls' High School (CGHS) reported sexual harassment in a survey.

The survey commissioned by the school painted a sobering picture of sexual harassment, with more than 400 students revealing they'd been sexually assaulted and over 20 saying they've been raped. The survey was carried out in response to concerns raised by CGHS students, who earlier this year protested over sexual harassment after a fight broke out on social media about the issue. 

White Ribbon manager Rob McCann says the survey shows healthy masculinity should be a topic in the school curriculum.

"It's appalling to look at the results of this survey but I think what the public has to understand is this -  what we think is occurring throughout New Zealand," he told The AM Show on Tuesday.

"From my perspective, we've got to actually look at this much more holistically and wider, which is, 'how do we actually prevent this from happening in the first place?'

"What I think we need to do is demonstrate that, actually, the other options are much better for them - healthy masculinity means that you can cry, you can laugh, you can do all the different things that you want to do in life - and you have a much better chance of having relationships."

McCann said men need to be encouraged to reject outdated stereotypes about what it means to be a "real man", and that tough conversations need to be had.

"We need to make sure the Government's putting this information throughout our schools because it's a bit of a postcode lottery; not every school is talking about this, not every school is equipped.

"We've actually got to get out, spend some money on the issue, start making sure we're educating within those schools, educating parents, and just changing how we talk about male masculinity."

On Monday, CGHS head girl Amiria Tikao said she wasn't surprised by the shocking research - while the school's principal said it was a wake-up call for New Zealand and changes needed to be made.

"We would encourage parents and caregivers to talk to their teen," CGHS principal Christine O'Neill said. "Start a conversation. They need our support and involvement."

O'Neill also called for Government intervention - including a beefed-up school curriculum around sexual education and harassment. 

If you have witnessed or experienced sexual harassment or assault and would like to speak to someone, you could call the HELP support service.