Student Health Promotion (SHP) designs, plans and implements programs and campaigns tailored to promoting healthier lifestyles among Georgia State University students. Recently, a program entitled #LoveConsent was designed to promote love, healthy relationships and awareness about consent. Peer Health Educators (PHEs) wanted to share information about consent on Valentine’s Day, the day of love, so that students would be open to having a conversation on how consent works best in different types of relationships. In doing this, PHEs planned to correct some of the misconceptions of normative beliefs and help students better understand some aspects of communicating consent that can be difficult.
More than often, sexual violence is conducted by those who share close relationships with the victims including romantic partners and family relatives. Increasing awareness and education on mutual consent will help reduce sexual altercations and violence. According to the (NCADV) National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner. World Health Organization, (2010) recommends the promotion and education of safe and healthy interpersonal skills, as well as the changing of social norms and gender inequalities within relationships to prevent sexual violence.
PHEs decided to encourage healthier relationships by raising awareness about what students felt worked best when having conversations about sex and consent. To do this, students needed to be aware of the results of the survey to reduce norms and misunderstandings about how others view consent. On Valentine’s Day 2018, SHP asked 94 students to place a sticky heart on the #LoveConsent board next to the way students agreed consent would be best. Student Health Promotion engaged in a fun and interactive form of data collection different than the usual. Students were asked to read 11 choices on the #LoveConsent board for when consent would be best. Many students easily answered the question but some thought it to be challenging. Students stated the way you go about getting consent and when you have the conversation are factors that are very important in all types of relationships. Students talked about their expectations with online dating, first dates and ways to be more comfortable having consent conversations. For responding to the survey, students received information about consent, condoms and heart shaped candies.
In the survey, half of the questions were related to the how and the other half related to the when consent is best. This part of the survey helped students compare whether the how you go about asking for consent or the when is more important. For example, the statement that consent is best when students are open and honest about what other students want and don’t want can be true on the first date, after the second date or before dating. This made it easier to see what students really thought would work best.
After completing the survey and sharing some of the results we found, students could be more open about interests and how to promote effective communication. This makes consent an easier topic among students especially when dating and in relationships.
Here are the top three ways Georgia State University students agreed consent works best:
- Consent is best when you are open and honest about what you want and don’t want.
- Consent is best when a person is thoughtful of another person’s feelings.
- Consent is best BEFORE any form of sexual contact.