A report by the APPG for UN Women, which found that 71% of UK women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public space, recommended that local grassroots campaigns and authorities “work on changing wider attitudes towards what is acceptable behaviour and what should not be tolerated”.
Whilst consent education does exist already in some schools, there are students who argue that the current provisions are not enough. In March, a website titled Everyone’s Invited gathered testimonies of over 10,000 allegations made by school pupils, detailing instances of sexual violence and abuse.
Furthermore, a recent study commissioned by the Higher Education Policy Institute found that most students (58%) believe they should have to pass a test on sexual consent before entering university.
Reclaim These Streets and Shout Out UK say the classroom provides a “safe space” for students to discuss issues around sexual consent, with an educational professional who can help facilitate productive and civil discussions.
Anna Birley, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets, said: “It isn’t OK that we grow up being told that it’s fine when a boy pulls our hair because it means he likes us.
“We have an opportunity to change that damaging narrative, and to engage boys and girls in a conversation about consent and respect, so that the next generation of men can champion women’s right to walk unmolested and unharassed in all public spaces.
“We’re delighted to work with Shout Out UK on this – they have an amazing record of working in schools and helping young people grapple with many of the most important and contentious issues of the day.”
We have an opportunity to change that damaging narrative, and to engage boys and girls in a conversation about consent and respect – Anna Birley, Reclaim These Streets
What’s included in the classes?
The organisations have provided three lessons’ worth of material, but schools can also request longer or shorter courses. Currently the content is for secondary school-aged pupils, but the organisations are looking to adapt content for primary schools in the future.
The workshops will cover consent and its relationship to the law, and in relation to autonomy, rights, harm, morality, healthy relationships, statute and religion.
They will also explore myths relating to sexual harassment, assault and rape, the concept of ‘victim blaming’ and understanding these terms in relation to gender.
The workshops will also focus on the legal and moral consequences for taking, sending and/or sharing sexual images and why this might occur, as well as revenge porn, data protection and privacy, and what online sexual harassment looks like.