Consent Education - It's time and the resources exist!Feb 16, 2022
In her National Press Club address last week, Grace Tame outlined the need for more funding for sexual abuse and assault prevention education to be implemented in schools across the country.
An important part of prevention education is consent education. It must be delivered alongside sexuality and respectful relationships education - we can’t adequately or comprehensively provide any one of the three without the others.
That is why we have created Virtual Classroom for schools.
A comprehensive resource for schools to deliver sexuality, consent and respectful relationships education to students from Prep/Foundation to Year 10 - ready for your school to use right now!
Find out more about it later in this blog.
Consent education is such a powerful tool for prevention.
In this blog, we will address common questions about consent education in schools:
- Why teach consent?
- What are the benefits of teaching consent?
- Why are some people so worried about teaching consent to children?
- What does best practice look like?
- What are some of the top things we all need to learn about consent?
Dr Allie Carter, senior lecturer with the Kirby Institute at UNSW, in an unmissable interview recently discussed on ABC’s Life Matters, how we have approached consent education, globally, in the past and how we, locally, can have such a positive impact moving forward.
Dr Carter highlighted that research shows consent education can provide what every parent wants for their child:
“...reduce adverse outcomes and have positive effects on knowledge and attitudes around affirmative consent, what healthy relationships should look like, gender equality and bodily autonomy…”
See this telling research here that informs us that consent education is currently lacking.
Let’s answer these questions!
Why teach consent?
- It is essential to everyday life and relationships.
- Teaching consent to young children instils decision making skills they will carry with them into their sexual encounters later on.
- To highlight the pleasure, joy and fun that consent provides in friendships/relationships and shared activities.
- Consent education covers topics like respect and empathy, both of which are essential to ensuring we don’t disrespect or harm others in our relationships.
- Teens typically become sexually active at around 16 &17 (that is typical human sexual development), they need a positive understanding of consent before they embark on intimate encounters. Consent delivered with an engaging, eroticised and pleasurable focus - not fear and danger approach.
- Consent needs to be taught early, consistently and in plain language with a focus on breaking down rigid gender stereotypes and disrespect, but perhaps most importantly with a focus on pleasure and shared enjoyment. It can be as simple as ‘why would you want to force someone to do something that is not pleasurable and enjoyable for all involved?’
What are the benefits of teaching consent?
- Prevents disrespect, violence and abuse.
- It’s empowering and provides a foundation of sexuality positivity.
- Teaches bodily autonomy.
- Can reshape the current culture in society of inequity and power in relationships.
- It demonstrates that the responsibility of ‘yes’ should be shared. The ‘no means no’ message is unhelpful. It puts responsibility and onus for consent onto one person. Mutual negotiation and responsibility for consent is needed. Ask for something that is likely to not need a ‘no’.
Why are some people so worried about teaching consent to children?
- Consent is a part of everyday life, so learning about consent is essential for anyone of any age.
- Society thinks it’s all about sex but consent has hardly anything to do with sex, unless we are specifically teaching sexual consent to teens.
- Our society sees sex and intimacy as taboo, something to be whispered about to be shameful of - we know this approach to be harmful for the sexual health and wellbeing of everyone.
- It’s time for a new approach. Evidence clearly shows open, age appropriate, conversations about human sexuality, consent and respectful relationships results in young people having much better outcomes during their sexual and relationship experiences.
What does best practice look like?
- Whole school approach.
- Evidence based.
- Age appropriate from an early age.
- Scaffolded with respectful relationships and human sexuality education.
- Includes input from young people themselves.
What are some of the top things we all need to learn about consent?
- Responsibility of yes or no should be shared.
- Consent means permission and is an enthusiastic, ongoing, mutually negotiated, and an affirmative YES!
- Consent is awesome & fun (for younger kids); sexual consent is erotic and pleasurable (for teens).
- Consent requires empathy and respect.
- Ability to withdraw consent is important. We need courage to withdraw it and we need to learn how to provide a safe space for people to do so i.e. identifying verbal and non-verbal cues.
Grace Tame stated that in order to make real change in preventing sexual abuse and violence, that we needed to make meaningful investment in children as they are the future of our nation. One of the best investments in their future we can make is providing them with age appropriate, comprehensive consent education from a young age.
You don’t need to wait for politicians to fund and create the resources!
All of the content a school could need for Sexuality, Consent and Respectful Relationships is already created and ready to go in an easy to use platform for any school in Australia with internet access.
Talking The Talk Healthy Sexuality Education has already been providing consent education in classrooms for many years from ages 5 - 18 years old.
This content is now available to every school in Australia ready to use!
Most importantly, the resource focuses on educating and supporting the teachers through a capacity building model, along with all of the lesson plans, activities and videos already ‘done for you’. Your school will never have to rely on an external provider and can deliver the content whenever it suits.
Teachers will be trained so that they can address sexuality, consent and respectful relationships issues whenever they arise in the classroom throughout the school year.
It’s time to deliver comprehensive consent education in schools, our children shouldn’t have to wait any longer!
Other blogs on consent: