An overwhelming majority of Irish teenagers believe sexual consent is vitally important, a new report has found.
NUI Galway’s Active* Consent programme surveyed 613 post-primary students aged 15-17 on a variety of issues related to sexual consent.
93% of females and 79% of males agreed that consent is always required for sexual activity, while 98% of respondents agreed it is okay to say “no” to sex.
Based at NUI Galway, the Active* Consent programme works to provide young people with the knowledge and skills needed to understand and practice sexual consent. It focuses on schools, colleges and sporting organisations in particular.
92% of participants came away saying they felt prepared to deal with sexual consent, compared to just 61% before taking part.”
This report concludes a two year development process for the Active* Consent programme and will see the introduction of a number of new resources for pupils, teachers and parents.
The new resources will include sexual consent workshops, seminars for parents and guardians and eLearning tools aimed at increasing young people’s understanding of sexual media, body image and pornography.
“Our resources aim to build consent competence, which means having the knowledge and skills that enable you to confidently communicate your own boundaries while respecting those of others,” said Active* Consent programme co-lead Dr Siobhan O’Higgins.
“We have worked with schools across the country to pilot a new consent workshop that supports not just teenagers, but also their parents and teachers,” she added.
“We worked with young people to design it, and now, based on piloting with 1,000 of their peers, the Active* Consent workshop is available to schools around the country.”
The pilot scheme for the sexual consent workshop proved to have huge influence on students. 92% of participants came away saying they felt prepared to deal with sexual consent, compared to just 61% before taking part.
The launch of the Active* Consent programme’s report featured contributions from the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon. He said the findings indicated progress was being made in a complex area.
“The Active* Consent programme indicates that we are making progress in confronting what is not only a complicated issue, but an extremely important one for developing positive relationships and reducing sexual harassment.
“The programme will equip secondary school students with self-confidence to speak up if there is something happening that they are not comfortable with. In a perfect world we would like to think attitudes towards sexual harassment are changing but evidence shows us we have a long way to go.”
The Active* Consent programme is supported by the Galway-based charity Lifes2Good, an organisation focusing on women and children in vulnerable situations.
The programme is also an awardee of Rethink Ireland’s Arts to Impact fund. Active* Consent utilises drama in some of its work with young people.
Additional information on the Active* Consent programme is available via the NUI Galway website or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.