As an educator or student leader, you have an important role to play in building consent awareness within your institution.

Educators / Student Leaders

We have developed resources including a workshop, eLearning module and awareness-raising campaign based on years of research with young people and consultation with educators at second- and third-level and experts in the field.

We provide student leader/educator resources for:
  • Secondary schools (teachers and staff)
  • Colleges (staff and student leaders)

We offer training and professional development opportunities to support you in delivering some of these materials, find out more here »

Jump below to our FAQs

Educators / Student Leaders FAQ's

  • Why should we emphasise consent as part of a broader sexual health education?

    Consent education is an essential part of a holistic sexuality and relationships programme. This approach is advocated for by international bodies including the WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Association for Sexual Health and national bodies including the Department of Justice, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Science, the Health Service Executive, Tusla, and the Irish Family Planning Association as well as other colleagues in the wider sector.

    Sexual consent that is ongoing, mutual and freely-given allows individuals to express and enjoy one of the most profound and beautiful experiences that humans can share.  When ongoing, mutual and freely-given consent is achieved, the experience of sexual intimacy has the possibility to be the best that it can be. In contrast, the absence of sexual consent creates the possibility for exploitation, abuse and trauma.

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines sexual health as: 

    …a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.” (WHO, 2006a).

  • What concrete skills are we trying to communicate to students/peers through consent education?

    The four key building blocks of consent literacy in the work of Active* Consent are: confidence, communication, support and challenge.

    Confidence- Individuals will develop knowledge and skills to support their personal safety.  They will feel in control and autonomous in the choices that they will make regarding sexual activity with others.  These choices will be informed by an accurate understanding of peer behaviour and attitudes as well as personal comfort levels.

    Communication- Individuals will be able to name and practice verbal and non-verbal communication of consent or non-consent within a relationship or with peers.  This is consent as OMFG (ongoing, mutual and freely-given).

    Support– Individuals will be able to identify and access supports for themselves and to assist peers.

    Challenge– Individuals will be able to recognise inappropriate behaviour and react in an appropriate, safe manner as an active bystander- either by acting themselves, enlisting peers and/or reporting.

  • What do I do if a student or a colleague discloses a negative sexual experience to me?

    If the person disclosing to you is under 17 and you are a mandated person, you are required to report the incident. You can read more about this process here. 

    If you are a staff member or student leader in a higher or further education institution, your institution may have policies in place for dealing with disclosures of sexual violence and/or harassment from a student or staff member. Contact your institution for assistance (including local support services, policies and procedures) regarding how to handle disclosures and/or mental health support for students and staff. 

    Here are some tips for responding to someone who tells you about a negative sexual experience from our “Start Here” campaign:

    Do say “I believe you”: Opening up about a negative sexual experience can be very stressful, so reassure the person that you believe them, and that you are here to support them and listen.

    Don’t say things like “Were you drunk?/What were you wearing?/Are you sure that’s what happened?”: That sounds like you think it’s their fault. Try to listen without judgement.

    Don’t rush them into telling the whole story if they don’t want to: Follow their lead – they might just tell you a little bit, or they may need to tell you the whole story.

    Do ask how you can help: You could offer to find out about support services. Even just listening can make a huge difference.

    Don’t say things like “I can’t believe this, I’m going to kill them!”: While it is difficult to hear about someone’s negative experience, take a breath and try to focus on their feelings, instead of your own.

    Don’t pressure them into reporting the incident before they are ready: Whatever happens next should be the survivor’s choice. Pressuring them to take action they don’t want can be disempowering and retraumatizing.

    Do ask “What do you want to do next?”: They might not know what they want to do right away, but whatever happens next needs to be the survivor’s choice.

    Do remember to look after yourself: Hearing about a negative sexual experience can be very difficult, especially if you have had your own negative experiences. Make time for your own self-care and mental wellbeing.

    For more information about support services available for survivors of sexual assault/harassment, visit our Get Help page »

  • What should I do to prepare my group for covering this material in advance?

    Your first step will be notifying them of your plans to cover this material well in advance of the scheduled session(s). You should make clear what content will be covered, that you will not ask participants to share personal experiences, and that information about support services will be provided as part of the session.

    Advance notice will give your participants time to reflect and prepare as needed and it gives anyone who may be personally challenged by the material an opportunity to discuss this with you in advance and come up with a plan about how to manage their participation.

    On the day of the session, begin by agreeing a group contract together for conduct during the session beginning with no sharing of personal experiences within the session.  Remind your group that you are not a trained counselor and share with them the support services available at the beginning and end of the session.

  • What should I do if someone becomes upset during the session or refuses to participate?

    Come up with a plan for what to do if a participant tells you they are unable to participate in this session due to the content being covered or if they need to step out if they have been impacted by the content.  If possible, work with a facilitation partner when covering this material so that if a participant becomes upset and needs to step out, or if there is a disruption, one partner can step in to assist with resolving the situation and/or checking up on participant(s).

    If it is the situation that you are mandating this material, and a participant refuses to take part, you might have to set a different assignment or liaise with your line manager/management about alternative materials.  If you find an individual’s reason for not participating in your session to be unsatisfactory, we recommend knowing who to talk to in your school/institution in order to resolve the situation.

  • What do I do if someone makes a negative, inappropriate and/or offensive comment in a group or classroom setting while I am talking about consent?

    It is important to agree a group contract prior to beginning the session whenever you are doing work related to this topic. If someone makes a negative, inappropriate and/or offensive comment, they are then violating the group contract.

    As the facilitator, you can then refer to the contract and tell them that it is not appropriate to make a comment like that.  You can then ask to speak with them privately after the session if needed. As with our suggestion about the facilitation partner in delivering the session(s), we also recommend that you identify in advance who you would call on to address a situation where a participant was disruptive or disrespectful following the incident in terms of disciplinary or other procedures (for example, principal, societies auditor, student union rep, head of department, Dean of Students, etc.)

  • What if my participants ask questions about my personal experiences?

    You can refer back to your group contract and clarify again that no personal experiences are shared during the sessions including your own.

  • What do I do if I feel personally affected by delivering these resources?

    Talking about consent, sexual violence and harassment can be challenging, and it can be triggering for anyone to discuss such difficult topics.

    Ensure that you mind yourself, practice self-care and reach out to the many support services available for you. Remember that your local Rape Crisis Centre is available to you to talk through how you’re feeling– even if you yourself have not experienced sexual violence.

    For more information on support services that deal with sexual violence and harassment, visit our Get Help page »

  • What if someone asks me a question that I don’t know the answer to when talking about consent in a group or classroom setting?

    Like other subjects you may teach or groups you might lead, you will not know the answer to every question that comes up. If you do not know the answer to a question, tell the student you are not sure, and that you will research the topic and get back to them with more information and/or direct them to further resources and/or support services for them to explore on their own.

  • Are these resources appropriate for use outside of Ireland?

    These resources have been developed using Irish data, however some materials have been adapted to the United Kingdom context. Please contact us to discuss using our resources in other countries.

  • What can I do if I am worried about a peer or colleague’s safety

    If you are worried about a peer or colleague’s safety, there are several things you can do, depending on the situation.

    If they are in immediate danger, call 999 or 112 if you are in Ireland.

    If you are witnessing a friend in an uncomfortable situation where they are at risk of being sexually harassed and/or assaulted, you can follow the five D’s of Bystander Intervention, a model first developed by Bibb Latane and John Darley in the United States in the 1970s which has been adapted by many anti-violence groups worldwide.

    TECHNIQUE

    WHAT TO DO

    ACTIONS

    Distract

    You can distract either the harasser or the person they are targeting to de-escalate the situation. This is a subtle and easy way to intervene in a situation without directly addressing what is happening.

     

    Spill a drink “accidentally” to break up the interaction.

    Strike up a conversation with your friend who is being harassed.

    Tell your friend who is being harassed that you need them to go somewhere with you, to remove them from the situation (the toilet, go home, to another place, etc).

    If you do not know the person that is the target, pretend you know them and talk to them to intervene.

    Delegate

    Ask a friend or another person to help. If you can, ask someone with some level of authority (a teacher, bus driver, bouncer, etc.)

    Inform a nearby person that there is an issue going on and that you need help.

    Call a friend for help.

    Direct

    If you feel safe to do so, you can confront the aggressor directly.

    Say “This isn’t ok, leave them alone.”

    Stand between the aggressor and their target.

    Document

    If you don’t feel safe intervening in the moment, you could record what happened on your phone or take a photo. Afterwards, you and your friend/the victim can decide what to do.

    Use your phone to record a video or photo of what is happening.

    You can do this discreetly if you feel more comfortable.

    Delay

    If you can’t intervene in the moment, check in with the person being harassed afterwards to see if you can help them in any way.

    Say “I saw what happened, are you ok?”

    Say “Is there anything I can do?”

    Say “Is there someone I can call for you?”