MORE THAN one fifth of teenage boys in Ireland don't believe that it's always necessary to get consent prior to sexual activity, according to new research.
A study conducted by the National University of Ireland in Galway surveyed over 600 transition and fifth-year students around the country, asking them about their perceptions of consenting to sex.
While 93% of teenage girls said they felt that consent was necessary for sex, that figure dropped to 79% for teenage boys.
When asked specifically about verbal consent, just 58% of boys said they thought it was necessary, with 67% of girls saying the same.
The study also revealed that 60% of all respondents agreed that 'non-verbal cues' could qualify as a valid form of consent prior to sexual acts.
A number of 'barriers' were identified as reasons why an individual might not give or ask for consent. 47% of students said the topic would make them 'uncomfortable', while the same number said it would make them feel 'afraid'. 12% revealed that 'pressure' might cause them to avoid the topic too.
The study showed that girls were more concerned with disappointing their partner, while boys were more concerned about rejection.
Elsewhere, 90% of respondents agreed that there was a need to talk about consent even when in a relationship, while 98% agreed that it was ok to say 'no' to unwanted sexual activity - a figure that researcher Dr Pádraig MacNeela said was "very encouraging".
The report feeds into a new Active Consent schools programme being launched in Ireland's schools next week, which aims to foster an "assertiveness" around the issue of consent prior to and during sexual activity.
Dr MacNeela noted that students held very clear views regarding the 'principle' of consent, but were less clear in their responses when posed with real-life scenarios.
The ultimate goal of the programme is to encourage students to follow the OMFG principle - which stands for Ongoing Mutual and Freely Given consent (do you see what they did there? ... if not, congratulations you have a pure soul).