Important conversations about consent

Elephant Ed (a national leading sexuality education provider to hundreds of schools around Australia) delivered a very insightful and informative webinar this week on sexual consent, including the legalities of consent and the importance of parental involvement in educating their children about consent. The presenters highlighted the influence of peers, the media and most significantly, the internet as the main sources of information about sexual relationships.

The global campaign started by former Kambala (Sydney Independent School) student Chanel Contos was highlighted as an important social action initiative regarding sex education in schools. Chanel, on her website: describes how she was “sick of constantly hearing my friends’ experience of sexual abuse”, and now calls for a bigger focus on consent in sexual education in schools.

During the webinar, the strongest message from the presenters was that parents have a major role to play in creating a safe environment for their child to show curiosity about sexual relationships and ask questions. Parents need to be informed and are encouraged to access the resources attached.
Peer pressure is a very significant factor influencing young people and seen as a driving force in sexual assault. Elephant Ed encouraged parents to discuss being upstanders not bystanders with their children when they witness unacceptable behaviour or narrative relating to sex.
Language is critical in the narrative of sexual relationships. Traditionally, the game of baseball has been used as an analogy in discussing sexual activity. The goal is to get a “home run”, whereas “striking out” is seen as losing. It suggests sex is a game that can be won or lost. Parents should educate their sons that sexual relationships are not a game and that they are free to explore at their own pace. Daughters should be encouraged to be strong, assertive, and take ownership of their own bodies.

Elephant Ed also provided tips on engaging in sexual consent narrative with their children:
• Talk early. Talk often
o Little conversations that have an end time eg en route to school or soccer practice
o Talk before you think your child is ready
• Use teachable moments
o Eg having attended the Elephant Ed webinar
o Chanel Contos’ global petition
o Brittany Higgins – sexual assault in Canberra
o Be aware. Be informed.
• Be aware. Be informed
o Understand the various social media platforms young adults are engaged in (eg snapchat, discord, house party, Tik Tok)
o 1800RESPECT – a great parental resource on starting the conversation with your child
o Tea video – ( Is a great resource about consent
• Model behaviour
o Role model consent to their children “do as I do, not as I say”
o With Primary aged children, reframe the conversation around personal boundaries, hugging
• Avoid fear tactics
o Discuss what does a positive, healthy relationship look like
o Don’t focus on what NOT to do

Jayne Wise
Senior School Wellbeing Coordinator