How can I effectively teach sexual consent?

Researchers recommended that future sexual consent education programs also need to be comprehensive, interactive, and participatory.Credits: University of New South Wales

In early 2021, former high school student Chanel Contos began a petition for early teaching of sexual consent education. Her petition arose for an Instagram Story poll she conducted, asking her followers if she had encountered sexual assault in high school. The poll received 1,500 views and 300 responses, with 205 responding “yes” to the question.

The petition is Sexual assault, Over 6,600 individuals share their voices. Since its inception, the petition has been signed by more than 44,000 Australians.

So how do you effectively educate young people about sexual consent?Recent studies conducted by researchers at the Kirby Institute and the Department of Population Health at UNSW School of Medicine have identified several themes that reflect the complexity of sexual consent and global sexual and relationship issues. education..

By conducting a systematic review of studies investigating sexual consent education programs among young people, researchers have identified some issues with current sexual consent education.

  • Many programs were conducted in a university environment with one-time, short, 1-2 hour sessions.
  • They often constructed consents in the context of risks of sexual activity and potential negative effects, as opposed to healthy relationships.
  • Programs rarely involve young people in co-design. This is important to meet their needs.
  • Many programs were not comprehensive enough and lacked diversity.

Sex-positive approach

Dr. Ally Carter of the Kirby Institute, the lead author of the study, said that sexual negativity is common in fear-based school sex education.

“It is probably not surprising to discover that many sexual consent education programs are constructing consent in the context of the risks and potential adverse effects of sexual activity. This approach is stigmatized and shameful. It can make it difficult for young people to ask questions and talk about sex. A healthy relationship. ”

Dr. Carter, an Associate of the Australian Institute for Human Rights, says that sexual consent education programs need to be sex-positive. That is, discussions need to be open, honest, unjudgmental, and recognize the benefits of consensus-based fun sex. And a healthy relationship.

“With age adequacy in mind, examples of topics include not only what is consent and what is sexual assault, but also how to build a positive relationship with the body and the personal values ​​surrounding sex. It also includes identifying views, understanding the right to autonomy in the decisions involved. Your body; setting a healthy sexual boundary between yourself and others and doing what you do not want. We are openly communicating with your partners about your needs and needs, including, “Dr. Carter explained.

She also stated that the program should prioritize a critical analysis of various factors that may influence the way we negotiate sexual encounters with each other.

“This includes unequal power relations, attitudes in favor of violence, expectations for gender roles, male-dominated party culture, and heavy alcohol consumption. These factors are, among other things, sexual assault alone. Instead, it may create an environment that enables consensus-based sexual experiences that can be painful, unwanted, unpleasant, or under pressure. ”

When to teach sexual consent education

On average, Australians are sexually active by the age of 16-17. Dr. Carter said that sexual consent education should be taught from elementary school in an age-appropriate way, with each person having the right to autonomy and self-determination of his or her body before young people become sexually active. He said he should make sure that he understands what he is doing.

“It’s important to teach young people, including young children, about consent and their bodies as young as possible, building a foothold on more complex issues each year, long before they have anything to do with sex,” Carter said. The doctor said.

“For example, early childhood education teaches children to learn the correct names for body parts, respect their choices regarding tactile sensations, respect the boundaries of others, seek consent, and identify and express emotions. You can focus on that. ”

Dr. Carter is the basis for open, open and informative discussions about sexual consent with teenagers, from helping to empathize with others to building positive relationship skills. Said that you can build.

Researchers also recommended a school-wide approach to sexual consent education. This approach proposes that a consistent set of policies, principles, and values ​​related to consent and respectful relationships be promoted and embodied throughout the school or university setting.

“The school-wide approach involves both formal and informal practices and conversations both inside and outside the classroom, involving multiple school-wide audiences, including parents, teachers, and students,” the study said. Olivia Burton of the Public Health Community Medical Center, the lead author of the, said. health.

She said this approach should be more widely used in future programs, as reducing violence requires not only educating students, but also changing culture.

“Education should include a critical debate about the structural and institutional environment in which one person attacks another, beyond the individual and interpersonal levels, to enable or enable this behavior.”

Involve young people in program development

It is important for Ms. Burton to involve young people in the design and implementation of consent education so that the content and results of the program are accepted and appropriate and can meet the unique needs and social environment of young people. Said.

“A recent example of the lack of inclusion and expression of youth voices is that of the federal government. Milkshake consent videoIt caused a serious backlash, including misleading metaphors and patronized youth. ”

Angie Wan, CEO and co-founder of Consent Labs, said it makes sense for young people to be involved in the development and promotion of sexual consent programs because they are targeted audiences.

“I felt that there was a big gap in the way sex education was presented, so I developed a consent lab. It wasn’t completely focused on consent and communication. In many cases, it completely avoids sex-related things. It was full of lessons, euphemisms, misinformation, and awkwardness.

“If you don’t talk about sex, there is a misconception that youth are’keeping innocent’, but that’s not true at all. According to statistics, high school adolescents are engaged in sexual activity and sexting. Without active education, young people cannot make informed choices themselves with evidence-based, expert support, “Wang said.

Mr. Wang explained that he would like to develop a realistic program that addresses the experience of young people not being glossy on the surface, considering various perspectives.

The program must be interactive and comprehensive

Researchers recommended that future sexual consent education programs also need to be comprehensive, interactive, and participatory. Ms. Burton said this meant facilitating discussions among students to learn and interact with each other both inside and outside the classroom. She also said that she is recommended for programs that attract young people through multiple learning styles and methods, such as presentations, drawings, plays, and problem-solving games.

“This is based on a study of best practices that interactive education is more effective. Young people Understand what they are learning and engage personally, “Burton explained.

Comprehensive programs mean ensuring that diverse communities are included based on sexuality, ethnicity, disability and class. program Development and implementation, she said.

“Surveys show a high rate of violence against socially, politically and economically marginalized communities, usually by men. In our research, many consent programs (at least peer-reviewed literature). It was also revealed that (what was found in) was mainly targeted at white women of the opposite sex.

“Young women cannot be solely responsible for changes in consent culture. It is important that all people participate in consent education and expand socio-political and cultural changes. Consent.. The program also needs to prioritize the issue of social justice by including discussions on gender discrimination, racism, homosexual dislike, transphobia, discrimination against persons with disabilities, and their impact on sexual health inequality. there is. ”

Address the root cause at the social level

Researchers said it would change Sexual consent Culture needs to be more than dependent on the school to carry out the program.

“To ensure that governments address the root causes of sexual violence at the institutional and social levels and invest in progressive programming and policies to promote social justice, sexual institutions, and health. , Needs a cross-sectoral approach. ”

Emphasis on Sexual Consent — One-off courses may not help

For more information:
Olivia Burton et al, Teaching Young People Sexual Consent in Education: A Systematic Review of the Story, sex education (2021). DOI: 10.1080 / 14681811.2021.2018676

Quote: How can I effectively teach sexual consent? (February 10, 2022) February 10, 2022 Obtained from

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