Consent is often linked to sex, but it simply means giving permission. When taught to children, it can be applied to a variety of nonsexual situations—giving hugs, borrowing things, and sharing are scenarios Kleinrock’s students came up with.
Although sex is removed from the equation when teaching consent to elementary students, the end goal is to help prevent sexual harassment and assault by teaching students about personal boundaries, how to say no, and how to respect no—and in the unfortunate case that students do experience sexual abuse or harassment, how to ask for help.
But teaching consent is not just about decreasing the prevalence of sexual violence and harassment, according to Jett Bachman, a K–5 sexuality educator for Day One, a nonprofit focused on ending dating abuse and domestic violence among youth. “It’s also a proactive way of providing young people with the tools they need to have healthy relationships with themselves and other people throughout their lives,” Bachman said.