How do you go about teaching young children about sexual consent? It’s never too early to instill in children what’s acceptable, but there is also a challenge with explaining the concept to those too young to understand. One teacher is taking the task head-on and came up with an inventive way to help educate her students about consent.
Her method as easy enough — a chart that helps explain the concept so that third graders can better understand. Liz Kleinrock is an elementary teacher at Citizens of the World Charter School Silver Lake in Los Angeles, California, where she teaches first through fourth grade.
When news of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault made headlines, Liz used the news as a teachable moment.
She shared her chart, titled “All About Consent,” on Instagram, explaining: “Everything about Kavanaugh in the news has been making me HEATED. So whenever I get frustrated about the state of our country, it inspires me to proactively teach my kids to DO BETTER. Today was all about CONSENT. We even explored the grey areas, like if someone says ‘yes’ but their tone and body language really says ‘no.’ Role playing is a great way to reinforce these skills, but they MUST be taught explicitly!”
The chart provides an explanation of what consent means and provides scenarios that help kids better understand when to ask for consent and what they can do if they don’t give consent. The chart begins by asking: “What does it mean to give consent?” and explains that it means “to give permission,” “to say ‘yes or ‘no,’” and “to be allowed to do something.”
Then there are examples of what consent sounds like, including “Yes!,” “Of course!,” “I’ll allow that,” “Okay!,” and “Sure,” and it further explains that these answers need to sound “positive and enthusiastic.”
Liz also asked her students, “When do we need to ask for consent?” and provided a number of scenarios, including: “giving hugs,” “borrowing things,” “touching another person,” “kissing,” and “sharing.”
She also provided her students with ideas for what to say to deny consent, such as “I don’t feel like it right now,” “No!,” ‘I don’t like that,” and “Maybe another time.”
There is also a section that goes over some gray areas by introducing scenarios that are not consent but might be confusing. Examples include: “you really want a hug, but the other person doesn’t,” “The other person says ‘no,’ but they’re smiling,” “You’re in the middle of a hug, and the person changes their mind,” and “The person let you hug them yesterday, but they don’t want a hug today.”
Liz’s chart won over many people online, with comments including: “THANK YOU! You are giving positive ideas and language to this whole mess, and showing us the way to move forward.”
Another person remarked: “Thank you for all you are doing!!! It’s so inspiring during this difficult time. This is the kind of teaching that will change the future for our students!”
In another Instagram post, Liz shared a student illustration relating to their consent lesson, writing: “Today we continued our lessons on consent by writing and illustrating comics that show what consent IS, and what consent is NOT. It was a fun way to check for student understanding, as well as practice including dialogue.”