The digital world is an inevitable and important part of young people’s lives and relationships. The same systems of violence that are present in person, are also enacted online and require a response that addresses the unique dynamics of digital communication.

How can we practice consent on virtual platforms?

At Project Respect, we define consent as a mutual, verbal, physical and emotional agreement that happens without threats, manipulation, or head games. Our work focuses on creating cultures of safety and consent online as well as developing tools to respond when violence does occur.

Some elements of enthusiastic consent are mutual and shared wants, that it is ongoing and continuous, and that it is the initiators responsibility to check in. Many youth have pointed out that practicing consent without being face to face can be complicated. How do we practice consent when important factors like facial expressions and body language aren’t part of the interaction? How do we ensure we’re picking up on emotional cues when we’re looking at text alone?

Our youth team is working on strategies for practicing enthusiastic consent on virtual platforms and integrating those ideas in to our school-based workshops. We have created videos of text conversations that we are using in workshops to encourage conversations and reflection on practicing consent. Check back soon for examples of the text conversation videos and discussion guides.

Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly’s Gender Spectrum Collection.

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