"When consent is not understood and respected, the epidemic of sexual violence continues."
- Possibility Seeds and the Courage to Act Project
It’s National Consent Awareness Week! This awareness week was started by Possibility Seeds and their Courage to Act project. Consent Awareness Week is observed during the third week of September because the first 6 weeks of school are known as "the Red Zone", where we see significant increases in sexual violence at schools.
Why do we need a National Consent Awareness Week in Canada?
- There are 636,000 sexual assaults self-reported every year in Canada
- At Canadian post-secondary schools, 71% of students either witnessed or experienced unwanted sexualized behaviours in a postsecondary setting
- In children and youth, 1 in 7 girls reported that another student has sexually assaulted them
- Transgender Canadians are more likely than non-transgender Canadians to experience violent victimization and unwanted sexual behaviours
- Serious impacts: mental health challenges, lack of sense of safety in school, academic impacts, having to shift behaviours like avoiding certain buildings or spaces, etc.
To recognize #NationalConsentAwarenessWeek, our team wanted to share with you some tips on how students can keep themselves safe while pursuing post-secondary education.
- Support systems. We're better together, know who you can trust and who you can count on when/if you need a friend or support.
- Consent. Take some time to learn about consent in ALL relationships. Bodies, schools, work, health care, policy making, our land.
- Substance use. What steps can you take to feel more secure in social situations? Don't leave a drink unattended, if accepting drinks from others, watch it being poured and carry it yourself, be aware of sudden changes in the way your body feels or changes in a friends’ behaviour
- Internet. If you're meeting folks through online dating or social media, plan for how you'll keep yourself safe. Avoid suspicious profiles, use caution when sharing personal information, tell a friend where you're going if going on a date, meet in a public place, make your own plans for transportation.
- Codes. Have a code word with your friends to send a signal that you're uncomfortable or need help.
- Trust your instincts. If it feels weird, it is weird.
Note: these tips aren’t to suggest survivors are responsible for the actions of others. Our hope is to enhance protective factors to keep you safe and well.
Awareness and tips can (and should!) be practiced by non-students, too! Based on statistics, reporting, and time of year, this conversation has us thinking of students.