Consent & respectful relationships

Learning intention: In this lesson, you learn that consent can take many forms and that there are different ways to ask for and give consent to support respectful relationships.

Lesson duration: 90 - 120 minutes

Task 1 / What is consent?

Explore

Navigating relationships during high school can be exciting and challenging. Basing the foundation of any relationship on respect, trust, clear communication and consent can lead to healthy and supportive relationships. 

As a class, discuss the following questions:

  • How would you describe a respectful relationship?
  • What does trust and consent mean?

Consent is a fundamental part of any respectful relationship. Read through the ‘What is Consent?’ information below from Kids Helpline.

Consent is an agreement between people to engage in a sexual activity.

  • Consent means freely choosing to say ‘yes’ to a sexual activity
  • It’s needed for any kind of sexual activity, from touching or kissing to intercourse
  • It’s always clearly communicated - there should be no mystery or doubt
  • There are laws around who can consent and who can't
  • Without consent, any sexual activity is against the law and can be harmful

    Only yes, means yes. Silence or lack of resistance does not equal consent.
 

Sexual consent is one form of consent. However, consent does not only relate to sex. When building a respectful relationship, whether it is intimate or not, consent is at the centre of all interactions. More Than This shares examples of many relationships, some which highlight respect and consent and others that do not.

Watch

Now you know what consent is, let’s look at some examples from More Than This. In this scene, two characters, Charlotte and Leon, are arguing in the school bathroom. We learn that Leon and Charlotte used to be in a relationship and Leon cheated on Charlotte with Legs. Leon and Legs are now dating. This is the first moment Charlotte and Leon discuss this betrayal of trust.

Reflect

In groups, analyse this scene working through the following discussion points:

  • Do you think Leon’s reasoning for cheating on and breaking up with Charlotte is valid? Why or why not? 
  • Do you think that the relationship between Leon and Charlotte is built on respect and clear communication? What part of the dialogue between Leon and Charlotte suggests / supports this?
  • Discuss the body language and invasion of space that occurs in this scene. How does power and control shift between these two characters throughout the scene?
  • Think about the confrontation before and after Leon and Charlotte kiss. Did they have consent for this kiss? Why or why not?
  • If both characters asked for consent, offering a moment to stop and reflect before the kiss, do you think Leon and Charlotte would have given consent for the kiss? Why or why not?

Both Leon and Charlotte did not have consent for this kiss, there was no explicit asking for or consent given from either character. Charlotte is upset and Leon is actively moving into Charlotte’s personal space throughout the scene. The shift of power in this moment is uncomfortable to watch as a viewer. It is clear to us as the audience that this is not a respectful relationship, however when you are in these positions it is hard to see and reflect on the bigger picture and that is why it is important to ask for consent.

Watch

In the following scene you will see two characters, Jamie and Zali, stepping away from the party to chat in the bathroom. Prior to this scene Jamie and Zali had kissed in a game of spin the bottle and Zali had just broken up with her girlfriend Emma.

Reflect

In groups, analyse this scene working through the following discussion points:

  • Do you think Jamie should have kissed Zali? Why or why not? 
  • Looking back at the information about consent, did Jamie ask for consent before this kiss?
  • Maybe Jamie made the assumption that Zali consenting to a kiss during the game of spin the bottle means they also consent to this next kiss. Why did Jamie not have consent to kiss Zali again? How could Jamie have asked for consent in this scene?
  • After the kiss, how did Zali use clear communication to clarify the relationship for Jamie?

Explore

As a class, learn more about the use of communication in respectful relationships.

Consent is all about communication!

When both people check in and talk about what they want or don’t want to do, it keeps everyone safe and happy!

What is Consent? | Kids Helpline

 

How to get consent...

Asking for consent doesn’t have to be awkward! If done right, it can be flirty and respectful.

Here are some ways you might ask if you’re in the heat of the moment:

"Can I..?"
"Do you want me to..?"
"Want to try..?"
"Can we..?"
"Are you ready to..?"
"Do you like this?"
"Do you want to..?"
"Is this ok?"
"What do you want to do?"
"Do you want to stop?"
"Would you like to..?"
"Are you happy to go further?"
"How do you feel about?"
"How are you feeling?"
"Do you want to slow down?"
"Are you comfortable?"

What is Consent? | Kids Helpline

 

What consent sounds like…

Consent should be clear, enthusiastic and certain. Remember, if it’s not a yes, then it’s a no!
Consent sounds something like:

"YES!"
"Yassssss"
"Absolutely"
"That sounds great"
"That feels awesome"
"Let's do that more"
"I'd like to..."
"Would you please..."
"I want to keep doing this"
"I'm enjoying this"
"Can we..."

 

Create & Share

What would these two scenes look like if communication was clear and consent was asked and denied? 

In pairs or teams of three rewrite one of the two scenes to include a moment where our characters ask for consent. You could rewrite the screen through a written story, a script, a comic or other visual representation. 

As an extension task, share your recreated scene with another group and provide feedback on the language used for consent.


Task 2 / Sending nudes and image-based abuse

Explore

As a class, discuss the following questions:

  • How would you define sexting?
  • Do you know what image-based abuse is? If yes, how would you define it?
  • What would you like to know more about sexting and image based abuse?

Learn more about sexting by reading through this information from Kids Helpline.

Sexting is generally okay if it's between two consenting adults

Choosing whether or not to sext is totally up to you. It’s NEVER ok for someone to pressure you into sexting.

People express their sexuality in lots of different ways, including sexting. They might choose to sext to:

  • Have fun or flirt
  • Explore their sexuality
  • Build self-confidence
  • Explore their identity
  • Stay connected in a long distance relationship
  • Explore trust and intimacy in a relationship

Sexting might seem like fun but it can also have consequences

When you send a nude photo of yourself to someone, what happens to it and where it goes next is often out of your control. Your photo could end up anywhere.

You may trust the person you're sexting with right now, but people can change and unexpected things can happen.

Taking, sending or receiving a sexy image of a person under 18 is illegal in some States. For information about sexting laws, check out Youth Law Australia.

What you need to know about sexting | Kids Helpline

 

Watch

In the following scene we see the aftermath of nude photo sharing. Legs takes Leon’s phone when he is passed out and goes through his photos. This, in itself, is a violation of Leon’s privacy as she did not have consent to look through his phone. Legs finds nude photos of Charlotte on Leon’s phone which we can assume were taken or sent when Charlotte and Leon were in a relationship. Airdropping the photos to herself, Legs then sends them in a group message.

Watch this next scene that shares the aftermath of the nude photo sharing.

Reflect

“Now everyone has seen my naked body, without my consent, just so you could feel a sliver of self worth.” - Charlotte

In groups, analyse these scenes working through the following discussion points: 

  • Discuss how and why the act of sending nude photos is a violation of consent. 
  • What could Leon and Legs have done differently in this situation? 
  • Why do you think Legs shared the photos in the group message?
  • How would you describe the way Charlotte is feeling after this has happened?

Explore

In groups, work through the following discussion points and activities:

  • In the second scene we see Jamie and Zali comforting Charlotte after her confrontation with Legs. Why do you think it is a good idea to open up or seek help from others in this situation?
  • Friends are always a wonderful support. There are also other support networks available to young people experiencing challenges relating to sexting. Who else could Charlotte turn to for support? Investigate spaces that provide support. For example, family and friends, school, Kids Helpline or the eSafety Commissioner. 
  • How can Charlotte’s friends be informed, supportive friends to Charlotte whilst she’s experiencing this abuse?
  • Compile your own list of trusted people that you would feel comfortable contacting if you were concerned about relationships and consent.

Explore

In More Than This, Mr E explains to Leon that the police will be contacted as a result of the nude photo sharing. The nude photo sharing that occurs in More Than This is against the law and is called image-based abuse. Learn more by reading the below information:

What can happen when you sext?

Sexting might seem fun but it can have serious consequences.

  • Taking, sending or receiving a sexy image of a person under 18 can be illegal in some States – even if it’s of yourself!
  • If you or the other person is under 18 you could end up in trouble with the law as it can be considered ‘image-based abuse’
  • When you send a nude photo of yourself to someone, what happens to it and where it goes next is often out of your control...

For information about sexting laws, check out Youth Law Australia.

You may trust the person you're sexting with right now

But people can change and unexpected things can happen, like:

  • A breakup
  • Someone shares your photo
  • The phone is stolen or hacked
  • Family or friends find the photo online
 

You can learn more about image based abuse on the eSafety Commissioner website.

Explore & Create

In More Than This, the image-based abuse involves both the police and school. Everyone has the right to feel safe and protected everywhere, including at school. Schools have well considered policies in place to support students experiencing issues online such as sexting and image based abuse. It is important that the school community understand and support these procedures

Read your school's policies to see how respectful relationships, sexting and consent, are referenced. If you are having difficulty locating these policies, ask your teacher. 

In groups, read your school policies and critically analyse, asking the following questions:

  • Who is the audience for these policies? Is it written for students or parents? Who should it be written for? Should there be separate versions for different audiences?
  • Which policies cover respectful relationships, sexting and consent? Should these activities be covered across multiple policies? Why or why not?
  • Do your school's policies outline clear guidelines and expectations in relation to respectful relationships, sexting and consent? Highlight where these are in your policies and make any notes on the language used. Is there any language that needs to be updated? Do you have any questions for the policy writers? Does it cover everything? If not, make a list of key information you would like to see changed or added.
  • Imagine that Charlotte, Leon and Legs attend your high school. Does your school’s policy clearly articulate the consequences of the image-based abuse that occurs in More Than This? If not, how could it be improved?

If you would like to suggest updates to your schools policies, compile your recommended updates in a single page document to pitch to your school leadership, Student Representative Council, or wider school community.

If you are unable to find policies that cover respectful relationships, sexting and consent, consider creating these policies as a class. 

As an extension task, conduct an anonymous survey to better understand students' knowledge of your school’s policies and the law around respectful relationships, sexting and consent, with the aim to improve their experience at school.


Task 3 / Consent and the law

Watch

In More Than This Charlotte, who is 17-years old, meets a much older man, Carlyle, at the tram stop after a traumatic day at school and home. Carlyle takes Charlotte out to dinner and then surprises her by inviting her back to his place. They kiss and Charlotte follows Carlyle home. Watch the following scene that takes place the morning after.

Reflect

As a class, discuss the following questions:

  • What are your initial thoughts on the relationship between Charlotte and Carlyle?
  • Do you think the relationship is respectful? Why or why not?
  • Do you think the activity was consensual? Why or why not?
  • What do you know about the age of consent?

Explore

There are laws around who can give consent and when. Read the information on consent and the law from Kids Helpline.

If you don’t have consent, it's an offence.

It’s against the law to do sexual things (even kissing or touching) to someone if they have NOT given or are UNABLE to give consent. This is called sexual assault and it’s a crime.

The law also says that there are some situations where it is NEVER ok for someone to do sexual things with you, even if you consent! These are:

  • If you’re under the age of consent. The legal age for consensual sex varies across each state and territory. To find out more, visit the lawstuff website.
  • If the other person holds a position of authority, power or trust over you (such as a parent, family member, teacher, carer, support worker).

You can’t give consent if you are:

  • Under the legal age of consent
  • Severely affected by drugs or alcohol
  • In a vulnerable position (the other person has power or trust over you)
  • Being forced or afraid that someone will use force
  • Tricked into thinking the person is someone else
  • Under the belief that you can’t or have no right to say no
  • Mistaken or tricked about what you're consenting to
  • Asleep or passed out
  • Semi-conscious or unconscious
  • Afraid you or someone else will be harmed ("If you don't, then I will…")
  • Made to feel too scared to say no
  • Pressured, bullied, manipulated or threatened
  • Not able to understand what you're consenting to
  • Prevented from leaving - locked in a room or car

What is Consent? | Kids Helpline

 

One of the moments when someone cannot legally give consent is when they are under the Age of Consent. The Age of Consent differs in each state and territory.

“The age of consent is the age at which the law says a person can agree to sexual activity. If you are under the age of consent, the law says that you cannot legally agree to sexual activity, and any person who does something sexual with you has broken the law.” - Youth Law Australia

As a class, discuss and research the following questions:

  • What is the age of consent in your state or territory?
  • If Charlotte and Carlyle met in your state or territory did they break the law? If so, who would be in trouble with the law?
  • Based on your understanding of how to ask and give consent and who can legally give consent, how could Charlotte and Charlyle have handled this situation differently?

Extension Task / Record a podcast segment

Create

What are the key learnings about consent and respectful relationships that you would want to talk to your peers about? Watch the following video where Nevo Zisin interviews More Than This creators Olivia Deeble and Luka Gracie to discuss cyberbullying and the lack of online privacy.

This video interview is courtesy of Minus18 and Paramount+.

In pairs or groups of three, record your own short podcast segment discussing consent and respectful relationships focusing on one of the scenes from More Than This we have explored in this lesson. 

Share

Share your podcast with your class and wider school community to support everyone to better understand the importance of consent and respectful relationships.


If any of the content in More Than This or this learning resource raises any issues for you, Kids Helpline’s qualified counsellors are available via WebChat, phone or email anytime and for any reason. 

Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free (even from a mobile), confidential 24/7 online and phone counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. Visit kidshelpline.com.au or call 1800 55 1800.

 

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