Playlist teacher guide - Yes No I Don’t Know

Playlist information

Playlist summary

This playlist explores the Yes, No I Don’t Know step in the Field Model and unpacks the different zones and rules that exist for each of the decisions.

Playlist purpose

The content of the playlist supports students to:

  • Understand the complexities around giving and gaining consent
  • Understand the importance of clear and honest communication within a relationship in order to be able to effectively resolve shared decisions
  • Explore responses to a range of shared decisions in relationships and analyse the effectiveness of different responses in conveying exactly what each party wants.

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Learning objectives

  • Understand that consent is a complex area and it is each individual’s responsibility within the situation to ensure they are being clear about whether they are giving and receiving consent from the others involved.
  • Propose practical and realistic ways to behave ethically in relationships to ensure all encounters are consensual.
  • Identify cues in real-life situations and practical and realistic ways to communicate when consent is and isn't being given.

Key messages

  • If a person says ‘yes’ but they were too frightened to say no, then it is not consent.
  • When dealing with situations or issues about consent it’s always important to double check that you are reading it right.
  • Having the skills to understand, give and receive consent can help people to have safe and respectful relationships.

Year level(s) appropriate for

Year 7, Year 8, Year 9, Year 10, Year 11, Year 12

Australian curriculum links

Investigate how empathy and ethical decision making contribute to respectful relationships.

Propose, practise and evaluate responses in situations where external influences may impact on their ability to make healthy and safe choices.

Plan, rehearse and evaluate options (including CPR and first aid) for managing situations where their own or others’ health, safety and wellbeing may be at short or long-term risk.

Media items

YNIDK and personal vs formal relationships

Type: Page.

Duration: 3 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: Yes No I Don’t Know is a tool for negotiating consent, but we have different approaches to consent in personal vs formal relationships. When is it right to use YNIDK?

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. A police officer stares at you in an intimidating fashion. Do Yes No I Don’t Know rules apply? Answers
    1. a.Yes, staring makes it a personal relationship
    2. b.No, staring is within the bounds of a formal relationship
    3. c.It depends on why they’re staring
    4. d.I don’t know
    Discussion points:

    This question is quite complex, and the best answer is it depends.

    What we need is context.

    If the police officer is acting within the formal bounds of their role, then YNIDK does not apply: they are just doing their job. For instance, if they are staring at you because they think you are acting suspiciously, or they want to make sure you are safe.

    If the police officer is acting in a personal capacity—staring because they are attracted to you, or trying to intimidate or harass you as a person—then they are acting outside of their formal powers, and we are back at the previous question and the shared nature of something like a stare.

Identifying and framing shared decisions

Type: Page.

Duration: 7 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: Applying YNIDK can be harder than it looks. First, you have to recognise what decisions are in play, and then you need to frame the decision so you can see what is shared and needs consent.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Is giving someone a long meaningful look a “shared decision”? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.I don’t know
    Discussion points:

    This is actually quite a nuanced question and is worth unpacking with students. Consider using the following logic:

    • Almost everything we do represents a decision, so staring at someone is a decision.
    • But is it a shared decision? This is a tricky question.
    • You might say no, because it only needs one active participant, the person doing the staring. The person being stared at isn’t involved. (A clearly shared decision would be wanting us to stare at each other, or you to stare at me.)
    • But you could also say no, there are in fact two active participants, because for this staring to take place we need both people—so it must be a shared decision.
    • This gets more important when we consider the effect of the staring.
    • If I give you a long meaningful look and you don’t notice, then you’re not affected and there is no issue.
    • If I give you a long meaningful look and you return it in the same vein, then there’s no issue because everyone’s happy.
    • But if I were to stare at you long enough and obviously enough, and my attention wasn’t welcome, then you might start to become self-aware and uncomfortable. Now do you have the right to stop me staring at you?
    • It feels like you should have the right to stop me, because at some point invasive attention becomes harassment.
    • We can understand why by going right back to the beginning and recognising that the long look is a shared decision, “Can I stare at you?” and if they do it without any consent then the starer is, strictly speaking, moving the line.
  2. Question number 2. Your boy/girlfriend is upset that you are staring at your phone instead of paying attention to them. Is staring at your phone while you’re hanging out with your bae/boo an individual or shared decision? Answers
    1. a.It’s an individual decision, although it does affect my boo
    2. b.It’s a shared decision, because I’m asking my boo to participate
    3. c.I don’t know
    Discussion points:

    This question reiterates the third global technicality with YNIDK: individual vs shared decisions. Staring at your phone is an individual decision, it doesn’t require consent, so YNIDK rules don’t apply. But that doesn’t mean your partner might not get really upset with you, because while the decision doesn’t require their participation, your constant texting does affect them.

The Actor

Type: Video.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: Cosmopolitan. ()

Summary: In this short film, an actor and a stylist have a good relationship until the actor starts being creepy. This is part of a series of shorts all based on people’s real-life experiences.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. How realistic did you think this scene was? Answers
    1. a.Super realistic
    2. b.Pretty realistic
    3. c.Not that realistic
    4. d.Totally fake
    Discussion points:

    Use this question to get a sense of whether or not students can imagine somebody acting friendly and non-sexual and then suddenly turning everything sexual, or of acting as if nothing is wrong when clearly something is wrong.

    This can lead to conversations about why both characters are doing what they are doing:

    • he’s exploiting power to be able to act without repercussions
    • she’s trying to balance politeness and friendliness but also maintain her boundaries
    • she’s probably traumatised
    • he seems like he’s used to this and not affected by it.
  2. Question number 2. The actor asked her to touch him, the stylist said no, the actor got dressed. Does this mean everything is fine? Answers
    1. a.Yes, he followed YNIDK
    2. b.No, he didn’t ask if he could expose himself
    3. c.I don’t know
    Discussion points:

    Exposing your intimate body parts might be seen as an edge case in YNIDK.

    You can see how that someone might say, “This is an individual decision—I’m airing my own private parts, the other person isn’t required to do anything!”

    Or, “I asked permission and so I was respectful!”

    But the decision to expose yourself directly to another person is not considered to be an individual decision because you are forcing them to look at something most people find confrontational in a way that most people would find disturbing, and depending on the context could be considered a form of sexual harassment or assault.

    So the way the actor is so seemingly polite and courteous obscures the fact that exposing himself in the first place, and asking her to touch him, in that context, was all a massive line move.

  3. Question number 3. Why do you think the stylist gave the actor her phone at the end? Answers
    1. a.She really wants that video for her niece
    2. b.Everything’s cool now, so she can get the vid
    3. c.She’s being polite and trying to stay safe until he’s gone
    4. d.She’s traumatised and going on auto-pilot
    Discussion points:

    There’s no absolutely correct answer to this question, but the most accurate answers are C and D, she’s trying to be polite and not rock the boat, but also she’s traumatised and in shock, doesn’t know what to do, and so is following existing social scripts.

    This is an important point to discuss how when people experience something traumatic, they can work hard to make everything look normal, including by following familiar social scripts. That doesn’t mean that what has happened to them hasn’t affected them or is over and dealt with.

Yes: The Action Zone

Type: Page.

Duration: 10 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: What makes a yes valid or invalid? What do you do if someone changes their mind? What happens if you don’t care?

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. How easy or hard do you think it is to understand another person’s yes? Answers
    1. a.Easy, because if someone is saying yes, it’s obvious
    2. b.Medium, because I’m good at reading even subtle signals
    3. c.Hard, because you can never really tell what people want
    4. d.Irrelevant because I don’t care what the other person thinks
    Discussion points:

    No matter what the students say, you should challenge them.

    • EASY: Is it always obvious? What if someone isn’t expressive. Do you only ever act when it’s obvious? Are there never any times when you would test out what you think the answer is?
    • MEDIUM: How do you know you are good at reading subtle signals? How would you know if someone wasn’t covering up their true feelings?
    • HARD: Is it really that hard? Aren’t there plenty of relationships where we make it clear to each other what we want?
    • IRRELEVANT: If someone genuinely thinks this, are they really admitting that they don’t care about other people’s feelings? How do other people feel about this? If nobody picks irrelevant, then why do people hurt each other? There must be times when people disregard other people’s feelings, why would that be the case?

No: The End Zone

Type: Page.

Duration: 9 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: The hardest thing about no is actually saying it, and the hardest thing about the End Zone is managing your feelings when you’re in it. This page digs into the tricky details.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Is a NO easier to communicate than a YES when you are in an intimate relationship? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Maybe
    Discussion points:

    When you are in an intimate relationship with someone it is usually because you care a lot about them and you don’t want to be responsible for hurting their feelings or making them feel bad. This can often mean that you will find it hard to say no to them, particularly if that No might make them feel upset, angry or disappointed. It’s really important that both partners make it easy and safe for the other person to say No if they don’t want to do something. It’s a two-way street when it comes to communication in relationships, and having open and honest communication as a basis of your relationship will make saying no a lot easier when you need to.

I Don’t Know: The Maybe Zone

Type: Page.

Duration: 4 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: Sometimes we don’t know what we want, so we can’t really say yes or no. What can we do to get more information and make up our minds? (Do we even have to make up our minds?)

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Is saying “I don’t know” a cop out so you don’t have to commit one way or another? Answers
    1. a.No, as long as you truly are not sure about what you want
    2. b.Sometimes, because you don’t want to hurt their feelings by saying no
    3. c.Yes, because it messes with the other person’s head, so they don’t know where they stand
    Discussion points:

    The reality is that everyone has the right to say I don’t know, regardless of their motives.

    If you think it is being used as a cop out then are there questions you can ask to find out why this might be the case such as “are you really unsure or are you just worried about how I’d feel if you said No?”.

    You can also help them feel more comfortable about giving an honest answer by saying “If you really don’t want to, I’m cool with it” to try and set up a safe space for them to make a decision.

    Remember it’s important to give them time and space to find out what they need to be able to make a firm decision either Yes or No.

    Depending on the student responses here it may be necessary to unpack further the concept of it being a cop-out through discussion of the following questions:

    • What might be some of the reasons why a person might find it easier to say “I don’t know” than Yes or No?
    • What might it indicate about the relationship if someone is worried about saying No to a shared decision?
    • What should you do if you feel worried about how the other person might react if you say No?

All the men who never assaulted me

Type: Web.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: Vox. ()

Summary: This is an article about one woman’s encounters in university.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Do the majority of guys and girls take No for an answer when they are in these sorts of situations? Answers
    1. a.Most of the time, as long as you make your NO really clear
    2. b.Sometimes, they will push to try to change your mind if they are really into you
    3. c.No, especially not if you are drunk
    Discussion points:

    This question is trying to explore whether the experiences of students and their peers mirrors the reporting that is in the media. It is important to emphasise to students that the mediating factor in whether sexual assault is committed is purely the intention of the perpetrator. This fact can help reinforce the message that the victim is never to blame for being assaulted.

Communicating Yes No I Don’t Know

Type: Page.

Duration: 8 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: YNIDK sounds all neat and tidy, but what do you actually do and say when you’re in a real-life situation with someone?

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. How important are body language cues when it comes to decoding whether consent has been given or not? Answers
    1. a.Really important
    2. b.Important, but what they say is more important
    3. c.Not that important
    Discussion points:

    A person’s body language is a really important part of what they are trying to communicate, in any conversation. It is particularly important as a cue to how someone is really feeling about a situation. Often we can say one thing but our body language can be conveying a totally different message. For example, a person might say they are OK with you touching them, but if they flinch at your touch that is a cue that perhaps they aren’t so comfortable. We need to be able to read these cues and check-in with the other person about how they are really feeling and what they really want.

YNIDK - Wrap-up

Type: Page.

Duration: 3 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: A quick summary of the main messages and themes in this playlist.

Activities and extras

The conversations generated through engaging with this playlist could be built upon and reinforced using role play scenarios or group activities where students practise and refine strategies for:

  • asking and responding honestly
  • checking in with the other person
  • challenging assumptions about whether a Yes or No has been given that are based on general rules.


When it comes to consent, getting an enthusiastic Yes or giving a clear No can sometimes be tricky. Sexual communication can be subtle and complex. YNIDKgives you some high-level rules but doesn’t tell you much about how things really look, feel and sound.

We strongly recommend the following podcast episode from RadioLab. It takes a vivid and in-depth look at some of the experiences of young people navigating sexual intimacy and how the giving and gaining of consent can be a tricky space to navigate if you aren’t communicating your wishes and intentions clearly.

NOTE: This podcast includes SEXUALLY EXPLICIT CONTENT AND LANGUAGE—so much so that we have not included it in the playlist directly. Please ensure you listen to the entire podcast before playing to your student groups so you are familiar and comfortable with the content of the recording.

After listening to the podcast with your students it will be very important to debrief some of the situations and concepts explored by the interviewers. The following questions provide a structure for unpacking and debriefing the content:

  • For the situations addressed in the podcast, where did the confusion between the two parties stem from when it came to whether consent was given?
  • What strategies can you use to ensure that there is no confusion when you are giving or receiving an enthusiastic yes before taking action?
  • What verbal and non-verbal signals can you use as a cue that consent has not been given enthusiastically?
  • What should you do if you or a friend of yours find yourselves in a situation like the ones described in the podcast?