‘Cup of tea’ sexual consent course taught to Harpenden students

Left to right: Safeguarding Superintendent Paul Maghie, transitions manager for Herts county counci

Left to right: Safeguarding Superintendent Paul Maghie, transitions manager for Herts county council's Vulnerable Young People unit Liz Bell, SARC manager Sandra Lewin, young peoples' independent sexual abuse advisor (ISVA) Dani Reece, Detective Inspector Sarah Corr, ISVA Jena Green, project officer for vulnerable young people Jo Mayes, and forensic nurse examiner Mountain Healthcare Lorna Lynch. - Credit: Archant

Sexual abuses and the importance of consent was taught to students from Harpenden, using a ‘cup of tea’ analogy.

Year 9 pupils at Roundwood Park School went to Herts Police headquarters to learn about consent laws, by explaining it would not be acceptable to force someone to drink tea.

The metaphor talks about different scenarios - for example if someone had originally said they wanted tea but changed their mind after the kettle is boiled, or if they asked for tea but then collapsed unconscious. In both situations it would not be okay to force them to drink.

Pupils also acted out a rape court case, playing magistrates, jurors, the defendant, and the victim before giving a verdict.

Herts Police collaborated with Herts county council’s vulnerable young people team and Mountain Healthcare, who operate the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), to organise the workshop.

A total of 50 students from Hertfordshire came to the event – there were also teenagers from Meridian School, St Christopher School, St Mary’s Church of England High School, The Reach Free School, and Sir Frederic Osborn School.

Sandra Lewin, manager at SARC, said: “[The students] were very engaged and were quickly able to apply what they had learnt to our courtroom scenarios.

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“We hope they share this understanding when they return to their schools and also keep it with them into the future, as they become adults.”

Det Insp Sarah Corr, from the police’s sexual offences investigation team, said: “Whether consent was given is an issue in the vast majority of rape investigations so it is vital that young people understand what it means.

“There is no getting around it – if someone doesn’t give their consent then the law says it is rape.”