Sexual Health Week: Explaining Consent to Young People

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Maintaining good sexual health is an essential and important part of every girl and young women’s overall well-being.  The Family Planning Association launched ‘Sexual Health Week’ 11 years ago and each year the conversations around sexual issues have gone from strength to strength.

This year’s theme is ‘consent’ – a concept which has seen much media attention over the last few years. Addressing what ‘consent’ means and feeling confident in communicating this definition to young people should be every parent’s priority when they choose to have “that chat” with their children.  As Mel Gadd, projects and training coordinator at FPA, explains: “consent is the single most important aspect of relationships and sex education. We need to equip young people with both the knowledge and tools to recognise what does and does not constitute consent.”

The FPA and other similar organisations have a wealth of support, resources and tips which will help all parents, teachers and youth practitioners gain confidence and knowledge within the topic area. However, we’ve done a quick roundup of FPA’s main tips which, if applied properly, should have you on you way to talking about sex and consent with confidence.


Top Tips: Talking about Consent

Don’t assume young people will know the basics already. If they haven’t
had relationships and sex education before you will need to go over these.

Familiarise yourself with laws around consent. The Sexual Offences Act
2003 can seem complicated at first (as can any law information) but is actually
quite sensible and straightforward once you’re more familiar with it. There are
plenty of resources around that summarise key laws around consent.

It’s about more than “no”. Consent is often approached from the viewpoint
of whether someone has said “no” or not. But sex should be something that
you do wholeheartedly, with someone, not to someone. So talk about
ensuring that the person you’re going to do sexual activities with gives a
willing and enthusiastic “yes”, however it’s communicated.

Also, consent is as simple as T-E-A!

Although the concept is simple (no means no), some people run into difficulty when talking about consent. Thames Valley Police recognised the issue of conversations around the topic and created this clever video. The video, which uses tea as a tool for explanation, is illustrated by Rachel Brian at Blue Seat Studios and written by Emmeline May at

The video, which was part of the #consentiseverything campaign by Thames Valley Police was well-received by the public when it was launched and it has been circulated around schools in the UK and abroad. Using the analogy of tea is not what you might expect for a topic like this but maybe that’s why it works so well (we are British after all!)

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