At a school in Victoria, Australia, the young boys were forced to go up during a school assembly and apologize to the girls present at the school on behalf of their entire gender.
7News, a news outlet in Australia, reported that the parents of these young boys at Brauer College in Warrnambool were quite angry to learn what their children had been forced to participate in. A parent involved, Danielle Shephard, said to the outlet that her 12-year-old son felt confused after he had been forced to apologize.
“He said that he was made to stand up and basically apologize… it wasn’t explained properly to the male students what they were doing or why they were doing it,” Shephard said in a statement to 7News.
The assembly took place after more than a dozen parents and students at another school made accusations of sexual harassment and assault. Shephard told 7News that Brauer parents were not warned of the assembly on consent or that the children would be made to apologize to girls for events they had personally no control over or had personally no been a part of.
The principal of Brauer College, Jane Boyle, stated that “[i]n retrospect, while well-intended, we recognize that this part of the assembly was inappropriate.”
The school pressed on the top that respect for women was an important topic for the school, but never acknowledged any kind of respect for boys as well.
“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,” Boyle commented in a statement to the outlet. “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,” she went on to say. “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.”
Boyle also stated that the school had planned to reach out to parents to “explain the reasons behind the assembly” and “to ensure that any student who requires support is aware that it is available.”
The whole event was planned in reaction to a decision made by Victoria’s Acting Premier James Merlino. He told schools that they would soon be required to teach the topic of consent to schoolchildren as part of an expanding program known as Respectful Relationships.