Survey reveals more than 20 Christchurch Girls' High School students raped, 400 sexually harassed

A survey commissioned by Christchurch Girls' High School (CGHS) is painting a sobering picture of sexual harassment, with more than 400 students revealing they've been sexually assaulted and more than 20 saying they've been raped.

The survey is 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. 

More than 700 CGHS students took part in the survey; 430 of those said they'd been harassed - a quarter of those more than 10 times.

Students were also asked to describe their "worst" incident of sexual harassment - more than 20 described being raped by individuals or groups.

Harassment was most likely to happen outside of school, around town and even on public transport, and involved both young and older men, the survey found.

"The safety and wellbeing of our staff and students are our number one priorities. In fact, that is why we commissioned this survey," principal Christine O'Neill said. "Everyone has a right to feel safe and clearly they don't.

"We would encourage parents and caregivers to talk to their teen, start a conversation."

Reporting incidents was very low - the main reason being shame and embarrassment, the survey showed.

"The number of incidents as well as the lack of reporting and the fact that our students have normalised this totally unacceptable behaviour, are all very concerning," O'Neill said.

This year alone, there had been 2677 sexual harassment incidents among 381 students - a quarter of those being carried out by groups and the rest lone males.

"We know that victims hold on to the trauma related to sexual abuse for 50-60 years. It is not OK that so many of our young people, or indeed anyone sees sexual harassment as part of everyday life," said Liz Gordon of Pūkeko Research, who undertook the survey.

Head girl Amiria Tikao hopes the survey results will empower people to call such behaviour out.

"I am sorry to say this is not a surprise," she said of the survey results. "I think adults are likely to find it more shocking than we do."

O'Neill said she was proud of her students for taking part in the survey and sharing "personal", "very confronting" experiences.  

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