Sexual Assault

N.S. launches sexual violence awareness campaign for teens

'The silence needs to be broken'

Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard launching the campaign
Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard launching the awareness campaign Tuesday at Millwood High School.   Charmaine Millaire

Nova Scotia is using the old “birds-and-the-bees” conversation to discuss sexual violence awareness. The campaign features a series of videos titled “Sexual Violence with the Birds and the Bees” that add a modern twist to subjects like consent.

The sexual violence awareness campaign was launched by Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard at Millwood High School in Middle Sackville on Tuesday.

Students and visitors at Millwood High School gather to view the launch of the campaign.
Students and visitors gather at Millwood High to view the launch of the campaign.   Charmaine Millaire

“This campaign had to be developed by young people if we wanted it to reach young people,” said Bernard during the launch.

“Young people felt that they didn’t have places to go and that we weren’t talking about sexual violence.”

The campaign is a collection of 30-60 second episodes featuring bird and bee-like characters. They are animated in the same style as popular television shows that have young audiences such as Bojack Horseman, an American animated comedy-drama series for adults.

The campaign also includes posters featuring the characters.

“We wanted to make sure that we were able to deliver the message in a way (that young people) were comfortable with,” said Bernard in an interview.

The episodes deal with situations of sexual violence that young people can face.

“It’s not an easy subject; it’s uncomfortable, we know that, “said Bernard in an interview. “But these conversations are happening all over the province in a way that has never happened before because of this strategy.”

The Sexual Violence Strategy is focused on the organization of services to better respond to the needs of victims and survivors. The strategy’s main focus is to prevent sexual violence from occurring in the first place.

Millwood High students Emily Hammond and Matthew Hughson have been helping with the campaign since it began in June 2015.

Millwood High students Emily Hammond and Matthew Hughson discussing the importance of sexual violence awareness.
Millwood High students Matthew Hughson and Emily Hammond discuss the importance of sexual violence awareness.   Charmaine Millaire

“The silence needs to be broken,” said Hammond.

The campaign website, birdsandthebees.ca, includes useful information about sexual violence in different sections such as:

* What is sexual violence

* Where to get help

* How to help a friend

* Types of support

* Awareness campaign

During the launch, videos were shown from the campaign website. The videos included ‘What is Sexual Violence’ and ‘Sexual Violence with the Birds and the Bees – episode 1’ (as seen above). Sarah Granke, a sexual violence prevention and support specialist, who also helped with the campaign, presented the audience with a walkthrough of the website.

Two more episodes will be launched on the website by the end of this year. Granke said that one of them will be 60-seconds while the other will be 30-seconds.

“This is a trend in the right direction,” said Bernard during an interview. “And we are very proud to see that.”