In our ‘relationships and consent’ sessions with year 10 or 11, we start off by asking students to write down any words they can think of, that are used today as words for sex.
When they have fed back these words, we ask them what they think. The young people recognise that many of the words are violent and aggressive, especially towards women.
Through discussion, we are then able to explore with the students where this language originates from e.g. from music lyrics, films and social media.
Many of the young people say it's hard to not use those words because they have become common language.
However, we encourage them to really think about the language they use and whether it really represents their own values, and what they stand for. Even though other people might be using these words, they can choose not to and can even impact their sphere of influence, by challenging the words, if and when they come up.
In a recent session with a Year 11 class, we told the group that there were lots of potential leaders in the room and that, as a leader, you can change the way things are, rather than going along with what others do and say. One student commented, in the session feedback, that it had helped him learn how to become a good leader.
When we returned to the same school the following week, we asked the students if what had been talked about had made a difference. One boy said that it had really made him think about the words he uses.