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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

We're Teaching Consent All Wrong

Sarah Sparks
www.edweek.org
Originally published January 8, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

Instead, researchers and educators offer an alternative: Teach consent as a life skill—not just a sex skill—beginning in early childhood, and begin discussing consent and communication in the context of relationships by 5th or 6th grades, before kids start seriously thinking about sex. (Think that's too young? In yet another study, the CDC found 8 in 10 teenagers didn't get sex education until after they'd already had sex.)

Educators and parents often balk at discussing strategies for and examples of consent because "they incorrectly believe that if you teach consent, students will become more sexually active," said Mike Domitrz, founder of the Date Safe Project, a Milwaukee-based sexual-assault prevention program that focuses on consent education and bystander interventions. "It's a myth. Students of both genders are pretty consistent that a lot of the sexual activity that is going on is occurring under pressure."

Studies suggest young women are more likely to judge consent on verbal communication and young men relied more on nonverbal cues, though both groups said nonverbal signals are often misinterpreted. And teenagers can be particularly bad at making decisions about risky behavior, including sexual situations, while under social pressure. Brain studies have found adolescents are more likely to take risks and less likely to think about negative consequences when they are in emotionally arousing, or "hot," situations, and that bad decision-making tends to get even worse when they feel they are being judged by their friends.

Making understanding and negotiating consent a life skill gives children and adolescents ways to understand and respect both their own desires and those of other people. And it can help educators frame instruction about consent without sinking into the morass of long-running arguments and anxiety over gender roles, cultural values, and teen sexuality.

The info is here.

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