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Learning Activities

All Learning Activities

When Is It Okay?


After completion of this activity, high school students will be able to:

  1. Explain to a friend that forcing someone to have sex is never okay, and

  2. Identify ways to reduce the risk of being raped or raping someone.


55-60 Minutes


  1. Make a copy of the "When Is It Okay?" Survey for each student.

    Note: Links on this page with the Portable Document Format icon require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print them. You can download this free software at:


Introduce the activity

  1. Explain that this activity aims to challenge students to clarify which situations make nonconsensual sex (sex without the other person's permission) okay. If the educator has not yet established groundrules, we recommend that he/she does so before facilitating this activity.

Discuss the Survey

  1. Pass out the "When Is It Okay?" Survey. Read through the directions with the students. Allow five to seven minutes for students to complete the survey. Post the seven situations from the survey on the board.

  2. For each situation on the survey, ask students to raise their hands if they responded with a "yes" answer. Write these totals on the board. Remind the group that these answers are their guesses of what most teens they know believe, not necessarily their own opinions.

  3. On the board or a flip chart, post the following results of a survey conducted recently with Rhode Island teens. Be sure to mention that even though it refers to males forcing females to have sex, nonconsensual sex can be initiated by females. Nonconsensual sex can also occur in same sex relationships.

Rhode Island Teen Survey Results

In a recent study, a group of teenagers from Rhode Island answered questions about when it was okay for a man to have sex with a woman without her consent. Here are the results:

  • 80% said it was okay if the couple is married
  • 70% said it was okay if the couple plans to marry
  • 61% said it was okay if the couple had sex together before
  • 50% said it was okay if the woman led the man on
  • 30% said it was okay if the woman had sex with other men before
  • 30% said it was okay if the man was so stimulated he could not control himself
  • 30% said it was okay if the woman was drunk

  1. Ask students to share their reactions to the Rhode Island survey results. Then ask them to compare these results to the results of the survey they just completed.

  2. Tell students that up to this point in the activity, they have been discussing what teens think is okay. Now you will share with them what is really okay. Write on the board or a flip chart in very large letters: "It is never okay to force someone to have sex. NEVER." Explain that forcing someone to have sex is against the law and is known as sexual assault or rape. Ask students to share other situations where one might mistakenly believe it was okay to force someone to have sex. Give students a chance to ask clarifying questions.

Educators Note

Nonconsensual sex is:

  • forcing someone to have sex (force can be physical or psychological)
  • going further sexually when the other says "no" or "stop"
  • going further sexually when the other is too drunk or high to make a conscious decision
  • coercing or tricking someone to have sex

Nonconsensual sex is either rape (vaginal intercourse) or sexual assault (other sexual acts). Rape and sexual assaults are serious crimes.

Create Guidelines

  1. Ask students to create groups of three or four. Tell them that they will be working together to generate ideas of what practical things teens can do to prevent rape. Assign half of the small groups to brainstorm a list of ideas on how to "prevent it happening to you," and assign the other half of the small groups to brainstorm a list of ideas on how to "prevent doing it to others." Instruct the groups to generate at least three ideas. Give them five to seven minutes to complete this exercise.

  2. Begin with the "prevent it happening to you" groups. Ask them to report their ideas as you post them on the board or a flip chart. Next, have the "prevent doing it to others" group report their ideas as you post them. Ask if anyone has ideas to add. Praise the groups for their ideas. Use the lists below to add to the student generated lists.

Prevent it Happening
to You

Prevent Doing it to Others

Know your sexual desires and limits.

Know your sexual desires and limits.

Communicate your limits clearly (preferably before the heat of passion).

Know that being turned down is not a rejection of you personally.

Be assertive if you feel sexually pressured -- say "no" or "stop."

If the other person says no, even if she/he says it softly or shyly, it is still no. Respect it.

Know that your nonverbal actions send a message that may be misinterpreted as you "want to have sex."

Don’t think just because he/she is dressed sexy or flirting that he/she wants to have sex with you.

Pay attention to your surroundings. If you don’t feel safe being alone with the person, make sure you are around other people.

Don’t assume that just because your partner had sex with you before, he/she will want to have sex with you again.

Trust your intuitions.

Avoid drug and alcohol use.

Avoid drug and alcohol use.


  1. Conclude by telling students that they have created a great set of guidelines for reducing the risk of rape, and you hope they follow them. Unfortunately, even if someone follows all the guidelines to preventing rape, she/he could still be raped. Rape is always the fault of the rapist. If someone is raped, it is best to tell a loved one and report it to authorities immediately.

  2. Ask students to choose two of the guidelines that they personally need to work on. Encourage them to share this information with a trusted friend in the next day or two. Sharing will help them remember what they want to work on and allow them to educate a friend about reducing the risk for rape.

Summarize the Activity

  1. Summarize the activity by stating that it is never okay to force someone to have sex. Forcing sex is rape or sexual assault and is against the law. Rape and sexual assault are always the perpetrator’s fault. To decrease the likelihood of rape, follow the guidelines generated in class.

  2. (Optional) Let the students know that you will create a handout of their guidelines to preventing rape. You will give them a copy and post a copy in the room.