What Every Child Must Know About The Grey Areas Of Yes and No

“No means no!” “Yes means Yes!”

That’s the lesson most people were taught as kids on understanding consent and sexual assault. But there is more to the conversation than just teaching kids that they can do whatever they want up until the point that someone says “Stop!”

Frustrated with the national conversation surrounding consent and sexual assault, third-grade teacher, Elizabeth Kleinrock put together a chart to help her students better understand that yes means yes, no means no, and the whole potential “grey area” in between.

Kleinrock, who runs the site, ‘Teach and Transform’, and calls herself an “anti-bias educator,” shared the chart on her popular Instagram account.

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teacher consent explanation chart
“Whenever I get frustrated about the state of our country, it inspires me to proactively teach my kids to DO BETTER,” Kleinrock wrote in her post. “Today was all about CONSENT. We even explored the grey areas, like if someone says ‘yes’ but their tone and body language really says ‘no.’ Role playing is a great way to reinforce these skills, but they MUST be taught explicitly!”

The chart breaks down what consent actually sounds like and when we need to ask for it.

consent education chart
As Kleinrock highlights, consent is not just the absence of no. It’s a “positive” and “enthusiastic” yes.

Most importantly, Kleinrock explains the “grey areas” of consent and gives the kids different examples of how to say “no.”

consent explanation chart

As she explains in the chart, coerced consent is not consent; it’s not consent if they say no but “seem” OK with it; you don’t automatically have consent to do something just because you’ve done it before; and anyone can revoke their consent at any time.

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Consent might seem like it should be self-explanatory, but it isn’t. A 2014 survey of 1,053 college students by the Washington Post found that 18% of them defined consent as “does not say no.” Another 22% said if someone engages in foreplay, such as touching or kissing, that counts as consent to go further. In 2016, Splinter News conducted a small survey of 48 men and found that around three-quarters of them had never heard the word “consent” until college. They didn’t know what it was and they didn’t understand that they should ask for it.

Obviously, Kleinrock is not about to give third-graders a graphic lesson on sexual consent. But her chart lays the much-needed groundwork for a conversation about what consent even is and why it’s so important to seek enthusiastic consent when it comes to other people’s bodies or property.

Her simple yet thorough lesson is getting tons of love from teachers and parents on Instagram.

explaining consent to kids
  • explaining consent to kids
  • explaining consent to kids


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    Kleinrock elaborated on her lesson for an article on ‘Tolerance.com’, where she wrote that many parents avoid talking about consent because they associate it only with sex, but that’s a mistake. Kids need to start talking about consent as early possible, not for sexual reasons, but because it helps them understand how to create and enforce safe physical boundaries and how to have healthy interactions with other people.”If we prioritize conversations around consent and boundaries at an early age, we lay the groundwork of developing our students’ moral compasses,” she wrote. “As educators and adults, we cannot change the past, but we can teach our students strategies to change these outcomes in the future.”

    Credit: Cafemom

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