Loves Me Not programme expands in Bay of Plenty

Loves Me Not programme expands in Bay of Plenty

Bay of Plenty

Bay of Plenty Police is expanding the successful Loves Me Not programme to reach more young people across the district. 

Loves Me Not is a school-wide programme delivered to year 12 students throughout New Zealand, which encourages and empowers young people to reject any forms of abuse in relationships.

Senior Constable Dennis Bidois noticed that many of the most vulnerable victims and prolific offenders of family violence were missing out on the lessons learnt inside the school classroom.

He is now expanding Loves Me Not to alternative education facilities and other community groups, including at Bay Pathways and with local Iwi.

“Many of our most at risk are youth have already left the usual school system before this programme even begins,” he says. 

“Loves Me Not is a beautiful programme so we’re not changing any of the content. What is important is that as many young people as possible receive this education, regardless of their circumstances.”

Developed with the Sophie Elliott Foundation, Loves Me Not encourages students to recognise unhealthy relationships and to take action where necessary, including through the use of effective bystander action and wider community action.

It is delivered through teaching workshops, collaborating with parents and whanau, and reviewing the school environments and policies.

“Teaching young people to recognise harmful behaviour, both in their own behaviour and in the behaviour of others, is an absolute priority for Police,” says Senior Constable Bidois. 

“Having a healthy relationship expands to a healthy life. With early intervention, we hope young people will learn to recognise happy and healthy relationships that stay that way.

“Too often, people are unaware of the early signs of negative relationships and as time goes by, it becomes more and more difficult to address or remove themselves from the situation.”

Relationship abuse is one of New Zealand’s biggest social and criminal issues.

“The programme teaches young people to speak up and to get help for themselves and for others,” he says.   

Across New Zealand, Loves Me Not has reached more than 10,000 young people this year at 94 schools.

As part of the goal to improve student-led action, many young people who have taken part in Loves Me Not have gone on to actively prevent family harm in their own communities.

It has resulted in students becoming active ambassadors of White Ribbon and establishing their own community action groups.

Senior Constable Bidois says he hopes to continue to expand the programme in Tauranga to reach more communities, Iwi groups, and eventually a wider age group.

“The Loves Me Not programme has provided one of the most successful inroads that Police have ever had into secondary schools and we know its benefitting young people’s future,” he says.

“Beyond the positive impact it has on relationships, it has created endless opportunities to gain the trust and confidence of students, staff and whanau.”

As part of the Loves Me Not programme, the Sophie Elliott Foundation has donated more than 21,000 copies of the book Loves Me Not: An Essential Guide to Keeping Relationships Safe to students around the country.

Further information on participating in the Loves Me Not programme is available through your local Police School Community Officer or online at the NZ Police School Portal.

ENDS

Police Media Centre 

Media note: Please direct interview requests to josie.cochrane@police.govt.nz