Over 20 students say they have been raped in a Chch Girls’ High School report

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Jun 27, 2021 |


A survey on sexual harassment, commissioned by Christchurch Girls’ High School, has revealed shocking behaviour experienced by students.

In the survey, students were asked to describe their ‘worst’ incident of sexual harassment.

Over 20 students described being raped by individuals or groups.

Many other incidents involved young men at social events, on the streets or on public transport. Egged on by friends, many comments were extreme and terrifying.

School Principal, Christine O’Neill said the results have been released in an assembly this morning, with parents receiving a letter to keep them informed.

“I commissioned this survey on sexual harassment following concerns being raised by our students It was clear we needed to know what was actually happening, how prevalent it was and how our young women and rainbow community deal with it.”

“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.”

Ms O’Neill said additional support has been put in place at the school today for both staff and students as she expects the survey results will be triggering for some.

“The safety and wellbeing of our staff and students are our number one priorities. In fact, that is why we commissioned this survey. 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. They need our support and involvement.”

Researcher, Liz Gordon who undertook the survey work, said more work must be done to establish how young people around the country are experiencing and dealing with sexual harassment.

Researcher, Liz Gordon

“We know that victims hold on to the trauma related to sexual abuse for 50-60 years. It is not OK that so many for our young people, or indeed anyone sees sexual harassment as part of everyday life,” she said.

“The prevalence of sexual assault and harassment and the lack of reporting should also be of major concern to everyone.”

There are many similarities between what the CGHS survey has found and what was reported in a report from OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) in the UK earlier this month. Liz Gordon says this suggests a worrying global societal pattern.

“Also mirrored in our survey is the way our young people change their lives to manage the sexual harassment. This includes dressing in baggy clothing to hide their bodies, travelling different routes to avoid harassers and changing their social lives to reduce potential interactions with harassers,” she said.


This Survey of Sexual Harassment is a report of a whole of school survey carried out in May 2021 for Christchurch Girls’ High School.

The research received formal ethical approval and operated an ‘opt in’ system or those under 15 (with parental consent) and an opt-out system for older students. The survey was sent to 1042 consented students and 725 participated, a response rate of 71.2%.

The survey included a definition of sexual harassment and 430 participants noted they had been harassed.

Most stated it had occurred 2-5 times, but a quarter had been harassed more than ten times.

Harassment included verbal, space, written and physical or sexual contact. On average, those who had been harassed experienced 2.5 types of harassment. Sexual harassment was most likely to take place outside school and around town, out socialising or on public transport. Online incidents were also common.

Over 20 students described being raped by individuals or groups.

Men constitute 91% of the identified sexual harassers, including young men the same age as the students and older men. Most common events were cat-calling, body shaming and being rated on looks.

In 2021 to date, 381 participants report a very high 2677 incidents of sexual harassment, or seven per student who had experienced harassment.

Most incidents were carried out by lone males, with one quarter by groups.

Participants described many incidents of physical and sexual abuse. Almost the same number of events were caused by older males on the streets, either alone or in groups, often in cars. Older males also harassed students on public transport and in taxis and Ubers.

The worst incidents stirred up many feelings. Students were uncomfortable, nervous, degraded, upset, embarrassed and afraid, among other feelings. Only a tiny number, less than 10%, received any help or support. Most did not mention asking for help.

CGHS Head Girl, Amiria Tikao, said she is not surprised by the survey results as she and her peers live with sexual harassment every day – and have for years.

CGHS Head Girl, Amiria Tikao

MP for Ilam Sarah Pallett said “I would like to acknowledge the strong leadership of Christine O’Neill, who has been proactive, courageous and determinedly protective of the young women and rainbow community of her school.”

 “I am immensely proud of the students for their bravery and honesty in their responses to this survey.’“

“I am deeply saddened but not surprised by the high incidence of sexual harassment and assault experienced by students, as it is consistent with what I know to be a broader societal problem.”

 “It is notable that following incidents of harassment and assault, the students describe changing their behaviour. Whilst this is understandable, full responsibility for the harassment and assaults and therefore of their cessation lies with the perpetrators, who are almost all male, both school age and older. It is to them therefore and not the victims that we need to look in order to eliminate the inexcusable harassment and abuse that our young women and rainbow community are facing on a daily basis. The school and students have my full support.”

MP for Ilam Sarah Pallett


How to report rape or sexual assault

If the rape or sexual assault has just happened then you should contact Police as soon as possible by calling 111.

However you can still report a rape or sexual assault if it happened to you weeks, months or even years ago.

There are two ways you can get in touch. You can phone or vist your nearest Police station.

What to expect when you contact police by phone

Phone your nearest police station and tell the person who answers the phone that you want to report a rape or sexual assault.

They will arrange an appointment for you to come in to the station or arrange for an officer come to your home.

If your nearest police station is not open 24 hours and you are calling outside opening hours then there will be a message telling you which station near you will be open and what number to call.

What to expect when you contact us in person

You can go to your nearest police station in person and tell the person on the front counter that you need to speak with a police officer in private to make a report. You don’t need to make an appointment and you may be able to speak to an officer straight away.

You can request to speak with a male or female officer and we will do our best to accommodate your wishes.

Contacting us for advice

Even if you just want to find out what your options are and how to get help you can still talk to us and you do not have to make a formal complaint. We can still help you with advice and put you in touch with agencies that can offer support and counselling.

What happens when you make a formal complaint

If you do choose to make a formal complaint you can find out more about what will happen in the:

It’s important for you to know that once you have made a complaint, you will always be consulted before decisions are made about your case.

More support

If you feel you need more information and/or support before you come to Police, there is an agency near you that can help(link is external).

Other agencies that can offer you information and help include:

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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