How To Teach Consent To Children And Teenagers
By Beverly Ilenloa
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) , so like we usually do we will spend the whole month talking about sexual assault. Sexual assault isn’t a very fun topic to talk about because it is very triggering and draining but we have to keep using our voices as this is an important tool. We live in a world where people see sexual assault as a minor thing especially when rape isn’t involved, we see adults who think sniffing the hair of random women is just a thing men do.  All this happen because we spend so much time pushing purity culture on  kids and teenagers, we spend time talking them not to have sex and not enough time teaching them what to do when they are ready to have sex. I have a deep seated hatred for purity culture because it focuses on saving yourself for marriage instead of teaching consent to people. So for SAAPM we are going to take about consent and how to teach children about it.
What is Consent? 
According to the Oxford dictionary the first definition which pops up when you search  consent is “permission to do something”,  I personally don’t like this definition because it insinuates that sex is something you do TO people and not something you do WITH people. the second definition is “agreement about something” which I prefer.
However, talking to kids about consent requires breaking down everything to very simple forms in order to make them understand you better. So, the next question is;
Teaching kids about consent can be done in different ways such as:
  • Explaining consent in a very simple and practical way.
  • Teach them to ask for permission every time: before they go out to play, before they take their sibling’s/ friend’s toys, before they hug their family members or strangers.
  • Model consent: kids learn from what that see, if you do things without asking for permission while teaching your kids consent, you are basically pouring water on stone, so your life should be an exemplary guide for your children. If you want your kids to ask people for permission before hugging them then do the same to your children.
  • Teach them how to respect boundaries: tell them that it is okay to take no for an answer when they complain about people who refused to do something with them, like the other kid who refused to play with them in school or the kid who refused to share their pencils with them.
  • Be open with them: tell them that they can come to you about anything, make yourself open to them so they can easily talk to you about anything without fear
  • Teach them that consent can be given and taken at any time.
  • Hold them accountable for everything they do instead of saying boys will just be boys.
  • Teach them that body parts are private: most parents ask for permission to wash their kid’s private parts and I think this is cool, encourage them to wash by themselves then if you need to help ask them for permission to do so.
Teenagers are children who think they are adults so it’s quite difficult to talk to them about certain things. If we make a habit of teaching consent to kids they will grow into teenager who understand consent.  It is okay if you skipped that stage and now you have a teenager at home or school who still needs to learn about consent.
There are various ways to teach teenager about consent
  • Explain consent to them using practical examples, for example take their phone without permission then ask them how they feel about it, this will open up a way to talk about consent.
  • Teach them to always ask for consent even when they are already in a relationship with someone.
  • Tell them it is wrong to force affection on people: teenagers expect everyone they love to love them back, tell them that is it is okay for people not to love them back because love is a choice and people can choose not to love them
  • Teach them how to handle rejection
  • Teach teenagers especially  boys to always step in when they see other people making rape jokes or cat calling women.
  • Teach teenagers especially girls that all attention they get from  people don’t need to be reciprocated.
  • Make yourself open to them so they can talk to you about everything, be a friend not an authoritarian.
I ask that we start and continue teaching consent to our kids and teenagers because if we do this they will grow into adults who understand consent and I promise, sexual assault will reduce drastically.