An educational healthy-relationship programme inspired by
the death of Dunedin woman Sophie Elliott is to be offered to
all New Zealand schools in the coming weeks.
It has been nearly a year since trials of the Loves-Me-Not
programme began in nine schools across the country, including
Waitaki Girls' High School and St Kevin's College in Oamaru.
The one-day course for Year 12 pupils involves police, the
''It's Not OK'' campaign team, social agencies and teachers,
and focuses on identifying differences between healthy
(equal) and unhealthy (controlling) relationships to prevent
The programme was established after Sophie Elliott was
stabbed to death in 2008 by her former boyfriend, Clayton
Weatherston, at her family home in Ravensbourne.
An impact evaluation of the programme was conducted by Dr Liz
Gordon, of Pukeko Research, who concluded the trials had been
remarkably successful from pupils' points of view.
Sophie's mother and Sophie Elliott Foundation co-founder
Lesley Elliott said the police executive had since agreed to
implement the programme, and its future use in schools was
New Zealand Police was now developing a plan to implement
Loves-Me-Not through the country's 12 district commanders,
using existing police resources, Mrs Elliott said.
''It's very exciting. It's exactly what I wanted. It's going
to be up and running.''
Each district was asked to implement the programme in one
school each year, but it was hoped it could be introduced to
as many as six schools per district each year, she said.
''If they can do more, that would be great.''
The programme will be delivered to year 12 pupils by three
police-trained facilitators - a teacher, a police officer and
a representative of a non-governmental organisation working
in the field of family violence prevention.
About 20 schools across the country had expressed an interest
in running the programme, Mrs Elliott said, and she believed
numbers would increase dramatically as word spread.
Columba College and St Hilda's Collegiate School hoped to run
the programme this year, she said.
Waitaki Girls' High School principal Tracy Walker praised the
''It really gave our year 12 students some education around
relationships and how to recognise if they are in an
unhealthy or controlling relationship, and some skills and
strategies to deal with that.
''It taught them things they needed to know - skills for
After the course, there was anecdotal evidence of girls
recognising they were in an unhealthy relationship, and they
sought help, Ms Walker said.
''It also really empowered other girls to recognise if their
friends were in an abusive relationship and how to help them.
''It tightened their awareness that if it doesn't feel right,
it probably isn't right.''
Staff, parents and pupils were pleased the school took part,
and she planned to run the programme again this year for year
12 pupils, Ms Walker said.
What to look for
Early signs of abuse in relationships.
-Partner tells you who you can see, what clothes to wear, how
to have your hair or make-up.
- Wants to know where you're going, who you're with, when you
will be home.
- Displays stalking behaviour and accuses you of being
unfaithful and flirtatious.
- Threatens to abuse you, your family, friends or pets.
- Nasty behaviour towards pets is a frequent early warning
- Threatens to commit suicide.
- Displays changeable/volatile behaviour.
- Is coercive, pressuring you to do things you don't want
- Physically abuses you by hitting, punching, choking or
- Communication is haphazard and unreliable.
Source: Sophie Elliott Foundation