When people talk about teaching positive consent to children, there is often a lot of reluctance. Many people link the topic inextricably to sex, and therefore assume it’s inappropriate in a third-grade classroom. But Liz Kleinrock, who teaches 8- and 9-year-olds at Citizens of the World Charter School in Los Angeles, feels it to be incredibly necessary.
“When I get frustrated about the state of our country, it inspires me to proactively teach my kids to DO BETTER,” she wrote in her Instagram feed, accompanying a simple chart to help young children understand consent.
Her education plan didn’t end with that infographic, either.
“If you teach anything in isolation, chances are the students will not retain the information,” Kleinrock told CNN. “So I will continue building on the lesson.”
She learned that her students were confused about the correlation between consents, secrets, and surprises, so she created another lesson to focus on that. She also reinforced both lessons by having the children write and illustrate comics on the topics.
Kleinrock praises the support she’s gotten from her school. “Social conduct is very important to the school’s policy, as well as teaching inclusion and diversity. They make sure that we teach this equally to subjects like math or writing.”
That support is important, as her lesson’s virality has exposed her to public criticism that the lessons are age-inappropriate. But Kleinrock has never so much as mentioned sex in her lessons, or linked consent to sexual activity. Consent is vital in all interpersonal interactions and is almost always the line between good and bad social interactions.
“We are not talking about sexual abuse — we are talking about consent. I think sometimes people have a difficult time with the subject because of the connection between consent and sex. But my goal is to teach about appropriate behavior,” says Kleinrock.
She hopes her lessons will go beyond her classroom. That’s why she has shared her lessons on Instagram all along.