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19th of April 2018


​The Importance of Teaching Consent - The Good Men Project

The recent high profile cases of sexual harassment that gave birth to the #MeToo movement have forced parents to take a new look at their kids’ conduct. It has reminded us of the responsibility we as parents bear to teach our kids about consent.

Most people think that recognizing consent is only applicable in sexual situations but the truth is it applies to other different scenarios. It also involves learning how to establish healthy boundaries and respecting the same in others. I believe that if we make it a priority to raise a new generation that not only recognizes consent but also understands the severity of violating someone else’s, we’ll finally start making strides in reducing sexual assault, harassment, and coercion.

No parent wants their child to grow up to be a perpetrator or victim of sexual assault. That is why we should begin teaching our children about boundaries and consent as early as possible. You can model and set the foundation skills for learning about consent from when your kids are toddlers and then slowly expand the conversation as they grow into teens.

If you missed having this conversation when your kids were young, you should definitely teach them in their teens. This is because in our culture, sexual violence has become a big problem, especially in young dating relationships. Part of the problem is that a majority of teenagers aren’t very clear on what consent means or even how to ask for it. Imparting this knowledge is crucial because the beliefs and attitudes our kids form during their teen years can affect how they treat their romantic partners both now and in future.

Here are a few tips on teaching your children the value of consent:Explain that your kid is the boss of their own body.

Empower your son or daughter by teaching them that their bodies belong only to them. They make the rules and they get to decide when, if and who to share their bodies with. That goes for all physical contact, hugs and kisses included. If they don’t want to be touched, no one should force, pressure or shame them into it.

Teach them about personal space.

Following the point above, ensure that your child understands and respects other people’s personal space. They should keep their hands to themselves and ask for permission before touching someone else. If that person declines their request, that decision should be respected.

Emphasize the importance of honoring the words “no” and “stop”.

Additionally, teach your children to respect the words “no” and “stop”. If someone tells them to stop doing something, they should immediately cease their behavior, especially where physical contact is involved. They should understand that the mere absence of a “no” doesn’t indicate consent. They should instead ask for and wait to hear a clear “yes”.

Model consent for your kids.

Your kids look to you for cues on how to behave so be a good role model for them to emulate. By modeling consent and being respectful of other adults, you’re teaching your teen to do the same.

If your kids see you hitting or shouting at others, they learn that it’s okay to use violence to get what they want. Similarly, bribing your kids to get a desired response sends a message that it’s acceptable to induce someone to do something they don’t want to do. So watch your behavior.

If we hope to change the horrifying statistics of sexual violence in our country, it’s imperative that we start having open discussions with our children about consent. The more we talk about it, the more normal it will become and the more empowered and aware our kids will be.—

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