The Renton-based King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC) is making strides to prevent sexual assault and sexual violence among future generations by partnering with local schools to teach Renton youth about the importance of boundaries, consent and communication.
Chris Johnson, director of Prevention and Education Services with KCSARC, said the organization is offering educational programs at Renton middle and high schools that are intended to give students awareness of concepts such as affirmative consent, bystander responsibility, coercion and boundaries. These skills will help students recognize and prevent sexual assault among peers and predatory behavior.
Johnson said the three-year federally funded program has been in Hazen High School, Renton High School, Dimmitt Middle School, and Risdon Middle School. He said the educational program fits within the guidelines of the legislature’s 2020 K-12 comprehensive sexual education law.
With this type of education being somewhat unprecedented and unfamiliar for students, parents and families, KCSARC is also offering a podcast series that outlines and explains the concepts that the program is teaching to students so parents can be offered transparency and understanding of a curriculum that does not entirely revolve around sex.
Johnson acknowledged the newness and unfamiliarity with this kind of sexual assault prevention education being taught to the youth in schools. He also recognized that even as a student he and other adults did not benefit from this kind of education.
“My lack of consent education is the norm,” he admitted. “Students are getting an education in something their parents did not get.”
According to Johnson, the podcast is also a way of getting parents more involved in education as well, as they play a “critical” role in the intervention and prevention of sexual violence.
Johnson said the theory behind getting kids educated on consent during these important transformative years is one intended to improve our society and culture for generations to come. He said students going through the program have become empowered, and in some cases even able to recognize predatory sexual behavior that they may have experienced in their own life and may not have realized until the proper education. He said it has also been shown that individuals who have a greater understanding of consent also show greater empathy towards others.
“These types of conversations are not controversial,” Johnson said. “It is part of being a good citizen.”
For more information on the program, and to hear the podcast, visit www.kcsarc.org.