According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Networks every nine minutes an American child is sexually abused. Consent is extremely important to teach students before they have sex for the first time. Abstinence-based sex ed is the curriculum for South Carolina, and as a result, 36% of high schoolers in South Carolina have already had sex in 2019, according to the CDC. Consent needs to be a topic covered early — in grades 3 and up every year in our district and in the state.
Consent is defined as permission or an agreement. High School 101 teacher Kathrine Kershaw teaches consent. “Currently, I teach that if someone says no, and you force yourself on them, then that is considered rape.” she said
This one lesson is nowhere near enough. Even if these students aren’t having sex, more likely than not, one day, they will. If they don’t know the basics of consent, there can be huge problems in their future. Middle and high schoolers should be taught the importance of consent concerning sex every year.
While elementary students need to know about consent in the context of asking to hug their friends or play with their toys. These building blocks promote students to understand the concept of consent before middle school in a more appropriate way.
Although the South Carolina Health and Safety Education Standards teach consent in grades 3, 5, and 9, that infrequent lesson is not enough. Students are missing critical education during middle school and high school grades after freshman year.
Students will never be taught about consent after ninth grade in school, yet many still don’t understand what consent truly means. Even though sexual assault are not always preventable, there are some ways to combat date/acquaintance rape, which is committed by someone the victim knows socially. Some ways to help prevent this violence include being around people who respect boundaries and always being clear about your limits.
Teaching students this information can help prevent date rape and confusion around what consent actually means. All of this education can go along with the legalities around sexual assault to help all students prevent date rape in case they did not know.
Since all families may not have the critical conversation about consent, students need to learn about consent in schools.
After HS 101, upperclassmen currently do not learn about these topics in Fort Mill Schools. An easy fix is to have homeroom teachers address the topic for a week each year.
Consent is vital for students to stay safe and help prevent unthinkable situations for students. -CJ