Home > Active* Consent for school communities: overview of the schools programme and research findings.

MacNeela, Padraig and McIvor, Charlotte and Achteresch, Lisa and Bharath, A and Dawson, Kate and Burke, Lorraine and Connolly, Rebecca and D’Eath, Maureen and Foden, Eadaoin and McGrath, Sinead and O’Rourke, Theresa and Tierney, Kate and O'Higgins, S (2021) Active* Consent for school communities: overview of the schools programme and research findings. Galway: NUI Galway.

PDF (Active* Consent for school communities)

External website: https://www.nuigalway.ie/student-life/student-supp...

The report contains the first in-depth research analysis of consent communication among Irish teenagers from a survey of 613 post-primary students. This research explores findings on attitudes to consent, perceptions of peers, and how young people responded to consent communication dilemmas. 

This survey found:

  • 93% of females and 79% of males agreed that consent is always required for sexual activity. (18% of males were neutral as to whether consent is always required; 3% disagreed that it is always required. 6% of females were neutral; 1% disagreed).
  • 62% agreed that consent for this activity always needed to be verbal, and 60% said that non-verbal consent to sexual activity is sometimes OK.
  • 51% agreed that their peers think consent is always required for sexual activity, while 37% agreed that their peers think consent should always be verbal.
  • There was a significant gender gap in personal comfort with being sexually intimate with someone they had just met at a party, with females less likely to be comfortable than males. While 7% of females were comfortable with intimate touching, 51% of males said they were comfortable.
  • There was also a significant gap among females between their personal levels of comfort with being intimate with someone they just met at a party, and how comfortable they thought other teenagers were with it. While 7% of females were comfortable with intimate touching, 42% of females agreed that other teenagers would be comfortable with this.
  • 98% agreed it is okay to say “No, I don’t want to” if you don’t want to have sex.
  • 92% agreed there is a need to talk about sexual consent even in a relationship. Nevertheless, being awkward, embarrassed, or being afraid of being judged or ruining the mood emerged as key barriers to consent communication.
  • The survey participants responded to three “consent stories” that explored reactions to someone saying “no” to a partner, to whether a smile constitutes consent, and to how males are perceived if they turn down sex.

The report completes a two-year process of developing the Active* Consent programme for schools. This complements the work that Active* Consent carries out with colleges and sports organisations. 

P.6 Several contextual factors relevant to consent have been identified and discussed in the literature. These include:

  • The impact of alcohol and drug consumption on capacity alongside false beliefs about the continued ability to give consent and engage in sexual decision-making while under the influence...

Based on the research carried out by Active* Consent, the schools programme launched consists of an integrated package of resources, each of which can also be delivered on a stand-alone basis: 

  • A sexual consent workshop for young people aged 15-17 that can be provided in-class or online.
  • Awareness-raising seminars for parents and guardians, along with education/training resources for teachers.
  • Sex on Our Screens, an eLearning resource designed to increase young people’s critical literacy skills on sexual media, pornography, body image, and consent
  • How I Learned About Consent, a new filmed theatrical drama that explores the nuances of consent, how we learn about consent, and the positive changes that take place when we practice active, positive consent.

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