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Sexual Consent Education at Canadian PSIs

Are you interested in sexual consent education? I am conducting a study with universities across Canada and I want to hear from YOU: students from #MRU #uOttawa #ConcordiaU #UBCO #STU #MacEwanU #uWinnipeg

Êtes-vous intéressé par l’ÉDUCATION AU CONSENTEMENT SEXUEL? Je mène une étude avec des universités partout au Canada et je veux vous entendre! Les étudiants de #MRU #uOttawa #ConcordiaU #UBCO #STU #MacEwanU #uWinnipeg

Cliquez ici pour accéder au sondage.

In Canada and United States, approximately one in three women over the age of 15 has experienced sexual assault during her lifetime (Benoit et al., 2015; Cantalupo, 2011; Fisher et al., 2000; Holland & Cortina, 2017; Karjane et al., 2002; Krebs et al., 2007; Tjaden & Thoeness, 2000; United States Department of Justice, 2017). Despite, one in five women and one in 16 men being sexually assaulted during their stay at a post-secondary institution (PSI) (Fisher et al., 2000), more than 90% of sexual assault victims do not report the assault to school authorities (Krebs et al., 2007; Krebs et al., 2016). The lack of reporting by PSI students is consistent with general Canadian and American statistics that reveal that only 1 in 10 acts of sexual violence is reported to police officials (Brennan and Taylor-Butts, 2008; Department of Justice, 2017). And furthermore, those statistics have not changed in decades. As a result of these facts, I want to explore what can be done differently – what can PSIs do to reduce the numbers of victims and potential perpetrators too.

The study is a multi-method approach to explore and understand sexual consent education at PSIs across Canada – what is currently offered and what are students saying they want.

The first aspect was an environmental scan of over 120 PSIs across Canada to collate what consent-based education they offer and how it is delivered (in person, online, mandatory etc.). Next, I conducted face-to-face and telephone interviews with students at two PSIs (one in AB and the other in NB). In addition, I interviewed staff at these institutions (residence, security, sexual violence coordinators etc.). And I also held a focus group with sexual health educator experts from the Calgary community. Among other questions, I asked students to define consent and to identify what consent education exists at their university and who receives the education. And I asked them if consent education should be mandatory and if it should be mandatory for everyone on campus, not just students but for faculty, staff, and administrators. 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I could not continue with face-to-face interviews with students at five other PSIs (in BC, AB, MB, ON, QU, and NB). Therefore, I converted the recruitment and data collection to be online in survey format (in English and French). To date, over 100 students have completed the survey.