Parents have used the birds and the bees to talk to their kids about sex for generations. The province is now using them to talk to teens about sexual violence.
Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard launched the Sexual Violence Strategy’s public awareness campaign, Sexual Violence with the Birds and the Bees, today, Oct. 4 to grades 10 to 12 students at Millwood High School in Middle Sackville. The campaign, aimed at Nova Scotians aged 14 to 20, uses an animated, modern twist on the popular metaphor to broach subjects like consent.
“We worked with young people to find a way of talking about sexual violence that would make sense to them,” said Ms. Bernard. “We consulted with diverse groups of teens, people in their twenties and our provincial committee every step of the way. We’re really excited to see what kind of conversations it sparks.”
The campaign consists of 30 and 60 second videos featuring bird-and-bee-type characters animated in the style of popular shows like Bojack Horseman and The Simpsons. The episodes deal with situations of sexual violence that youth told us they are facing in today’s world. The first 60 second video takes place at a house party and explores the issue of alcohol and consent.
“I have friends who have been in situations like this,” said Millwood student Emily Hammond. “I think people my age will pay attention to this campaign. We need people to be more aware. There’s a problem with things like cat-calling and how some people talk to women and girls. I find a lot of people don’t have a voice. We need a change and not just with some people, with everyone.”
The videos are available on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. They’ll also be shown in cinemas across the province. The campaign website at birdsandthebees.ca includes useful information on where to get help and how to support a friend who has been subjected to sexual violence.
Campaign materials have been designed so they can be easily used by organizations around the province.
“Sexual violence thrives where there is silence, shame and confusion about what is right and wrong,” said Rhonda McLean, a registered counselling therapist, high school guidance counsellor and member of the provincial committee. “We want this campaign to be an opportunity for all of us, especially youth, to speak where there has been silence, make sense out of the confusion, and use this new awareness to reduce the prevalence of sexual violence in our communities.”
The campaign is a key commitment of the Sexual Violence Strategy, launched in June 2015. The strategy is a three-year commitment with a total budget of $6 million. It is focused on the co-ordination of services to better respond to the needs of victims and survivors, and ultimately preventing sexual violence from happening in the first place.
Strategy actions have been identified in three main categories: services and supports, education and prevention, and approach and accountability.