Earlier in April, REACH presented at Newton South High School’s Day of Consent. The Day of Consent was organized by three Newton South seniors as part of their final project for a course called Sustainability. Sustainability is a senior history class that focuses on different ways of creating a sustainable society through historical and public health lenses. These three students developed a speaker series on sexual assault awareness and prevention to address rape culture and consent.
REACH’s Youth Education Specialist, Molly Pistrang, led an interactive presentation for 100 students and ten faculty, staff, and counselors. The workshop “’You up?’ Consent and Boundaries in Digital Spaces” focused on relationship rights and how boundaries are established in physical and digital spaces. Participants discussed some of the complexities and challenges of conducting relationships through texts and social media. They examined the impact of assuming definitions of terms such as “Netflix and chill” and “hooking up.”
A whole group dialogue on consent as a mutual, enthusiastic, willing, and evolving agreement led to an in-depth exploration of the role of boundaries within relationships. In small groups, participants discussed associations people have with the word boundaries, who people need to establish boundaries with, when people should establish boundaries, and how to establish boundaries. Particular attention was paid to the questions of: what do you say or do online if you are or are not interested in someone? and what makes establishing boundaries challenging? Many different students and faculty shared their opinions in a rich conversation.
Towards the end of the workshop, Molly briefly introduced “I statements” (I think/ I feel/ I want) as an effective tool to communicate boundaries. The presentation ended with a Q and A session during which the group further examined challenges people confront when establishing boundaries in diverse relationships.
We are happy to continue and deepen our partnerships with local high schools and middle schools with days such as these. Learn more about our work with teens.