Thursday, March 26, 2015
Consent is clear, coherent, willing and ongoing.
Learning about consent is also an ongoing process, says our Director Health Promotion Frances Bird.
“Teaching ideas and skills for consent begins early in life, for example, encouraging children to recognise “Yes” and “No” feelings and to talk about what they like and what feels good and what doesn’t,” Ms Bird says.
“This can be something as simple, and important, as not insisting that young children kiss or hug a family member or friend if they’re saying or showing they don’t want to. We need to reinforce, even to very young children, how important these “No” feelings are and how we respect their decision to make them.”
These skills – learned in a young person’s home – provide a great platform from which more sophisticated skills around consent can be taught as part of a comprehensive sexuality education programme within the young person’s school.
We have put together a new toolkit for secondary teachers to help them discuss and teach about consent in their classrooms. Our toolkit is designed to support the teachers with responsibility for the sexuality programme within their schools and is available at no cost.
The free toolkit includes activities that enable young people to work out what they do and don’t want to do or participate in, and build assertiveness, communication and negotiation skills.
All the activities can be modified or adapted to suit the needs of the young people and the school environment.
Example of activity:
Ms Bird says consent is active not passive.
“We want young people to learn that consent is understandable words and/or actions that indicate a willingness to engage freely in sexual activity. It’s above moving away from the “they didn’t say no” mindset to a “we both said and showed yes”- a willingness to any sexual activity,” she says.
“In a world where sexualised material is readily available and widely shared, whether with knowledge or not, the teaching and understanding of consent has arguably never been more important.”
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