It’s a difficult topic to approach, especially for young people — but youth in Nova Scotia are among the highest demographic of people experiencing sexual violence.
A new awareness campaign launched Tuesday by the provincial government is hoping to break down barriers around the subject and encourage dialogue.
“We know in the wake of the Rehtaeh Parsons tragedy that young people felt that they didn’t have places to go, that we weren’t talking about sexual violence. This strategy has really broken the silence on that,” said Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard.
The campaign, called Birds and the Bee, was designed with the help of high school students. It will see a series of animated videos released, all of which deal with situations of sexual violence. The first video explores the issue of alcohol and consent.
WATCH: Sexual Violence with Birds and the Bees – episode 1
“Though this video is funny at times, the messages are clear: we need to respect consent and actually break the silence and talk about what’s happening around us,” said Matt Hughson, student at Millwood High School.
The videos will be shown in cinemas across the province and released on social media.
“We know they use Instgram, we know they use Facebook, Snapchat, all of that. We wanted to be cutting edge, with that technology so we could get our message out because they’re not listening in the traditional ways of 20, even 10 years ago and we wanted to make sure we were able to deliver this message in a way they were comfortable with,” said Bernard.
The campaign also includes both a poster campaign and a website, where people of all ages can find information on where to go and how to help those who have experienced sexual violence.
“I think bringing the issue out in the open is the only way we can start to change the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that influence sexual violence,” said Millwood High student Emily Hammond.
Officials say the goal of the awareness campaign is to start the conversation around sexual violence.
“Conversations need to be happening and they need to be happening among all of us not just youth, not just specialized groups of people but we need to have conversations about what sexual violence is, in all of its manifestations,” added guidance counsellor Rhonda McLean.