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Yes, no, maybe-so: Canadians don’t understand consent, new study reveals

Study emphasizes a need for better sexual education, consent awareness and abuse prevention
Greater Victoria high school students call for greater sexual assault education in front of the B.C. legislature on April 10, 2022. (Black Press Media file photo)

A new study conducted by the Canadian Women’s Foundation reveals a shocking number of Canadians don’t understand consent.

The study is a fresh reminder of the need for proper sexual education in Canada, finding that 55 per cent of Canadians do not fully understand the role of consent in sexual activity.

According to the study, only 45 per cent of people reported that they would need both a yes and a keep going for a sexual situation to be consensual.

This is counter to Canadian law, which requires that consent be both positive and ongoing, meaning both participants should exhibit enthusiastic, positive affirmation that they would like to engage in sexual activity and for the whole time.

“While more people seem to be aware of what consent is, it’s alarming that so many still don’t understand,” said Paulette Senior, president and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, in a press release. “It’s a sign that Canada desperately needs to invest in consent education and effective abuse prevention measures relevant to all age groups.”

While this study shows that awareness and understanding of consent have increased since 2015, when it was measured at 33 per cent, it is still desperately short of where it needs to be.

Nearly 4.7 million women report that they have been sexual assaulted at some point in their lives, indicating that consent is still a point of concern.

Statistics Canada reports that 30 per cent of all women over 15 have been sexually assaulted, with those in diverse groups at a higher risk.

The high number of women who are assaulted annually shows that more than 55 per cent of the population needs to better understand the role of consent.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation is fundraising through December for gender-based violence prevention and intervention programs in an effort to bridge this gap.

READ MORE: Parents pushing B.C. to expand sexual assault, harassment and consent education


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About the Author: Greater Victoria News Staff

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