We have written before about the importance of understanding what does and does not constitute consent. Not only does misunderstanding about sexual consent make instances of sexual assault more likely to occur, but it actually heightens the psychological effects of sexual assault by creating a feeling of isolation for the victim. When a victim is assaulted and does not understand that what has occurred qualifies as assault, they endure the same damaging psychological effects of the assault without the validation that they have a right to feel that way or the motivation to pursue legal action against the perpetrator.
Schools in Britain have acknowledged this problem. From age 11, certain schools now require mandatory consent education. In these classes, administration hopes to both prevent sexual abuse and better equip children to handle it when it occurs.
The aim of these classes is to provide information appropriate to the age being taught, but also to prevent sexual violence before children reach the ages where it is likely to occur. Children in these classes are taught that consent can be withdrawn, that consenting to sex once does not mean that consent in the future is presumed, and that no amount of sexual activity constitutes consent to further sexual activity.
Another focus of the class will be that sexual assault victims are not always women, and that sexual assault can happen within LGBT relationships as well.
Officials believe that because children are exposed much more readily to sex in today’s society, it is especially crucial to expose children to consent education before sexual assault is likely to occur.
Some officials are proposing that these types of classes become mandatory across the board in the UK. Consent education is absolutely crucial in protecting children and adults from sexual assault and should be a part of any sexual education curriculum. Hopefully the efforts in the UK to protect children with sexual consent education will come to fruition, and the US will follow its example.