News story

Teenagers confess they are confused by consent

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Minister Lynne Featherstone met with boys from London to find out what they think about the government's rape prevention advert.

Many of the boys she spoke to said they felt confused about what rape was and what counted as consent.  They said the advert challenged them to rethink their understanding of rape and encouraged them to discuss the issue with their peers.

This is abuse

The hard-hitting campaign, This is Abuse, aims to aid teenagers in developing healthy relationships by helping them recognise abusive behaviour. The most recent phase of the campaign, launched in March, focuses on rape and sexual violence.

The 14-year-olds were shown the newest campaign advert, which feature a teenage girl being coerced into sex by a boy as a party goes on downstairs. They then discussed the ad in groups, commenting on what constitutes a healthy relationship, what kind of behaviour is unacceptable in a relationship and what rape is.

Evidence from surveys shows that, while most teenagers know that rape is wrong, they don’t always know what constitutes rape. Many believe it only occurs on rare occasions and consider rape as a ‘violent attack on a stranger’, rather than something that could occur in their own relationships.  This was reflected in the discussions the Rokeby students had.


The campaign challenges those preconceptions and helps teenagers understand the issue of consent.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said: ‘Teenagers are inundated with information about relationships, from their friends, the internet and TV. The This is Abuse campaign aims to dispel the myths that can lead to acceptance of rape in relationships. 

‘I want to bring this issue out into the open and get young people talking about the importance of consent.’

The minister also watched the advert with a group of teenage girls when they were first launched in March, to find out what they thought about the issue.

Earlier phases of the This is Abuse campaign, which ran in 2010 and 2011, focused on emotional abuse and controlling behaviour