Let’s Talk About Consent

Let’s Talk About Consent is a new report launched to help young people, and those working with them, to deal with issues around the subject of consent.

Lisa Harold,

Lisa Harold, NYCI National Youth Health Programme, Author of the report, Let’s Talk About Consent.

Developed by the National Youth Council of Ireland, the report finds that over half of young people are confused as to what consent means.

Other issues include: how to ask, when to ask, shyness in talking about consent, not having the language to ask for consent during sex.

Speaking at the launch of the report on 18 September 2020, author Lisa Harold of the NYCI National Youth Health Programme said:

“It is vital to support young people to build and maintain healthy relationships, which includes building their confidence around their sexual health.

“As we enter a period of living alongside evolving Covid-19 restrictions, it is important to highlight resources available to support young people in terms of their sexual health and the concept of consent, which is a key aspect of any relationship.”

Evidence from the youth workers who participated in the research indicates that:

  • There is confusion among some young people as to what the term consent means (58%)
  • Some young people have a lack of confidence to communicate their preferences in relation to sexual activity (23%)
  • The main sources of information for young people on consent are peers (60%), media (34%) and school (29%).

Two Guides launched

To help tackle the issues identified in the study, the National Youth Health Programme is launching two guides for young people and those working with them. The guides, Let’s Talk about Consent, provide an introduction to the concept of consent and include information on:

  • Consent and the Irish Law
  • Tools to build the confidence and communication skills of young people in relation to their sexual health
  • Guidance for youth workers to start a conversation with young people on the concept of consent and how their organisation can support young people and their sexual health

Training needed to address the issues

“The findings from this report indicate that young people are confused when it comes to the term consent and what this involves,” Ms Harold said.

“There was also a lack of confidence on the part of some young people to communicate their preferences in relation to sexual activity. Some young people felt peer pressured to engage in sexual activity and this is impacting on their ability to address the concept of consent. Data also indicated that peers, media and schools are the main sources of information on consent for young people.

“In order to address the topic of consent with young people, training was highlighted as the main need by those working with young people, and we will now be rolling out a national training programme to accompany the guides being launched today.”

Focus on the experience at the coalface

Speaking about the methodology behind the research, Ms Harold explained that the research focused on finding out what those at the coalface see as the issues:

“There are 1,400 full-time youth workers and 40,000 volunteers in the youth sector. This research covered a large sample of this group through a combination of quantitative (targeted online survey completed by 255 respondents) and qualitative (5 focus groups) research methods.

“Due to ethical considerations and reporting obligations, the researchers consulted directly with workers and volunteers in relation to their experiences of the young people they work with and the concept of consent. This study, in turn, has provided the evidence base for the Let’s Talk about Consent guidance documents which we hope will be widely used by young people and those working in the youth sector,” concluded Ms Harold.

The Let’s Talk about Consent report and toolkits are available for download on youth.ie/health



SOURCE: Materials provided by NYCI
Note: Content may be edited for style and length.



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