Monday, 21 September 2015

The Importance Of Teaching Consent

The Importance Of Teaching ConsentIf you've been reading my blog for a while, you might remember I wrote a post about victim blaming. If not, you can read it here. I mentioned consent in that post, but didn't go into, so today I thought I would talk about the importance of teaching young people about consent.

Firstly, I believe that obtaining consent is important at any age, but I think as adults, we are more equipped to communicate successfully non-verbally.

I think teaching teenagers about consent is one of the most important things you can teach them.

I'm sure sex ed in schools has moved on drastically since I was there, and perhaps now consent is covered in more detail. When I was at school, it was summed up as "girls, just say no" and that was it!

Whether or not this is taught in schools, I think every parent should cover it whenever they believe their child is old enough to understand the meaning. Often in schools, by the time these things are taught, it's too late.

I know parents don't want to think their teenagers are having sex, but in some cases they are. It's better that they are equipped with the facts.

It's not enough to teach a girl to "just say no".

Imagine two people. They have been together a couple of months. They are kissing, and he moves his hand towards her panties. She half heartedly pushes his hand away and mumbles "we shouldn't". She looks down, bites her lip and swallows hard. He tries again. She pushes his hand away again, maybe she even giggles a bit. She say's quietly "it's not right."

An adult male would get the impression from this that she doesn't want to go any further. If he has any decency about him, at this point, he will stop.

Now imagine he's 15.

Body language probably isn't his strong point at this stage, especially if they have had a few drinks.

His hormones will be going wild.

Even the most decent teenager can justify this as she wanted to really, she was just too shy to admit it, she was laughing. And the crucial part - she didn't say no!

It is essential to teach girls that if they don't want things to go further they must use the word "no".

Equally important, is to teach them how to say no.

There is a world of difference between a girl giggling and saying "no, we shouldn't" and looking someone in the face and saying "no, I don't want to".

Assuming the boy she is with is a decent person with even minimal morals (because if he isn't, nothing she says is going to stop him), the second phrase will make him stop. The first phrase sounds like she wants him to persuade her.

I don't think the full responsibility of this lies with girls' parents.

I believe that parents of boys should be teaching them that no means no means no. End of. Not "I'm open persuasion" not "Just do it anyway" but no.

Teach him that if at any point she uses the word no, he must stop immediately.

Teach him that the grey areas are rarely grey.

They are, more often than not, a girl so wrapped up in the boy that she doesn't want to tell him no and risk losing him.

A girl desperate for him to hear the no behind the giggling and the gentle hand pushing.

A girl that wants to hear it's ok to wait.

Teach him that one simple phrase can save a lot of heart ache. Even if she isn't saying no and she seems totally into it. The simple phrase being "Are you sure you want to do this? We can stop anytime you want."

By asking this question and getting an answer, there is now consent without pressure.

Are you the parent of a teenager or pre-teen? Have you taught this lesson yet? If so, how did you go about it? Do you feel it is covered well enough in schools? Let me know in the comments :)

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64 comments:

  1. Very interesting and important post.
    I do teach my son to take No as a No, especially if it comes from a girl. He is starting to get it,( He is 9 ). I agree with you that it is something a parent can teach their son.
    I have a pre-teen daughter and this is where I get lost a bit.
    With all the hormones and moods, how do I broach the subject without putting the fear of hell into her ?
    She is still not interested in boys ( Thank God ) so I have time to figure this out.
    Thank you for writing this post. I look forward to reading the comments and learn.

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    1. It's great that you have started instilling this lesson into your son while he is still young, so it becomes second nature. I think with a young girl, it's a very hard subject to tackle, but one that can't be ignored. I think its about teaching her to be self confident enough to say no and mean it, and to know that if he walks away she made the right decision because he was never worth it!

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  2. OMG! You read my mind. I mentioned something like this in my post about teaching life lessons to my boys but I love the phrase you used that boys should really consider and say to their girlfriends,"Are you sure you want to do this? We can stop anytime you want?" But I would go further than that and assure the girl that saying no won't end the relationship. the reason I say that is because a guy did say this to me but I still felt compelled to go with it. I was young and naive. It's something I aim to teach my boys because it really comes down to communication and when my boys think they might be ready for sex, then they need to be ready to communicate, which involves talking and listening. I love your post! this is so good! thanks for sharing! Visiting from #alittlebitofeverything

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    1. Good point, the more reassurance the guy gives the girl that its ok and he's not going anywhere the better. I totally agree about the communication - if you are not mature enough to discuss sex, you are nowhere near mature enough to be having it! Thank you :)

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  3. This is a great post. Thanks for bringing more awareness to the topic. Kids really need to understand this concept.

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    1. Thank you :) I do believe the majority of teenage boys are decent people, they just don't fully understand that pressuring their girlfriends isn't right.

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  4. As the father of a 15 yr old girl with an 18 yr old boyfriend I can say that I appreciate this post. If I had a son I would be drilling this into his head constantly. So far we haven't run into any problems, but it's terrifying

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    1. It really is! I'm glad to hear so far there hasn't been problems. from what I've read on your blog, your daughter sounds pretty sensible so hopefully she has picked a good one!

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    2. seems that way, but daddy's watching

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  5. I didnt teach teach my son that no means no. Instead I taught him that only a definate yes will do. When he gets to the 'I want to put my hands down your pants' stage, he asks if thats ok. Any answer other than a definate yes means you stop, no further questions asked.

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    1. Great way of doing it Tracey, a lot less room for misinterpretation that way :)

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  6. Oh, I read this from #brilliantblogpost xx

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  7. Absolutely right, couldn't agree more. The stats on abusive teenage relationships are really high - a lot of it influenced I think by the media/music video/porn versions of relationships that teens are exposed to. The importance of asking for consent - and also one's right not to consent and for that to be respected - are key messages we should all be giving our tweens and teens! #brilliantblogposts

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    1. Yes, I think the rape culture has a big effect on young people thinking its ok to do this! That's why I feel its so important for kids to be getting the right message off parents etc early on.

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  8. My boys are 12 and 13 and I am already bringing this topic to their attention. There isa fabulous video comparing consent to drinking tea that everyone should see. If you google tea and consent video you'll find it.

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    1. Good on you! I think the earlier you can bring it up, the better so they have it drilled into them by the time they are starting to get girlfriends. The video sounds great, I'll check it out.

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  9. This is a fab post and such an important topic. Obviously we are years away from having to deal with this but I'm going to keep this post in a section in my head for when the time comes. It all makes complete sense and hopefully we can all teach our children the rights from wrongs early on. Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

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    1. Thank you Lisa :) It's such an important message, that I think often gets overlooked with boys. Obviously no one thinks their son is going to grow up to be a rapist, but its that grey area where they don't think they are doing anything bad that is problematic. Thanks for hosting :)

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  10. I think society is slowly getting better at changing the message from 'Girls protect yourselves from rape' to 'Boys don't rape', but that message still has to sink into the minds of the general public. Sadly I think many parents won't bother to teach their sons anything like this; they'll stick with warning their daughters to watch out for boys, and won't say a bloody thing to their sons, but I will be broach this subject with my son, and I will do my damned best to raise him to be a decent and considerate teenager and man. #ShowcaseTuesdays

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    1. Yes, I think we are moving away from blaming the victim more, but there is still a long way to go, and until this message is taught to boys early on, there is still going to be this grey area where they don't feel like they've done anything wrong because the girl didn't seem convincing enough when she said no.

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  11. Absolutely. Love this post. Saying hi from #Alittlebitofeverything Link up.

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    1. Thank you, and thanks for stopping by :)

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  12. Fantastic post. Teaching teens about consent is something that all parents need to do. Your advice seems to simplify it a bit. I'm going to remember this for when my daughter reaches her teen years, Stopping by from #momsterslink

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    1. Thank you :) I think its really important and something that gets overlooked

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  13. Wow! I have 2 girls and have not ever thought of this before! But it is so necessary. Raising kids is so hard. And so scary. So much they need to know! Thank you!

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    1. Raising kids is the hardest job in the world! I'm glad my post has helped you :)

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  14. Another excellent post - thank you for linking up with #ShowcaseTuesday

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  15. I'm 24 so all this kind of thing is quite fresh in my mind. I'm a shy timid kind of girl and I didn't know how to say no. I would be the giggly girl that would say 'we shouldn't' rather 'no I don't want to' ..I was quite shy so I always thought when I wanted to say no it's because I was scared. I always gave in, because I thought I was being an idiot. Guess it depends your personality how you would consent. It's hard

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    1. It is really hard. I think one of the most important elements is teaching boys to understand that just because a girl isn't physically pushing him off it doesn't mean she wants to go any further.
      Its very hard to teach teenage girls to be self confident enough to say no, even if it means the boy walks away, it is definitely easier to appreciate with hindsight.
      Thank you for sharing your experience :)

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  16. I think it's great to teach consent sooner rather than later. It's just not something that we think when are little ones are so young. But it should be! #binkylinky

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    1. It is something that often gets overlooked, because like you say, people don't often think of it when children are young, but I think the earlier you can start teaching this, the more likely it is to stick.

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  17. This is a great post and I really think that you could do a version of this every year because it is such an important topic. My boys will be taught about this when the time is right probably once puberty comes in. We all have a responsibility to share this message. I agree with your other commenter from Eco Gites that the video on drinking tea is great. Well worth a watch and gives it a great perspective.

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    1. Thanks Kirsten, I might do that because it is an important message. It saddens me that young girls are doing things they aren't comfortable with because they don't know how to stop it, and also that young boys may look back on their teenage years with regret in years to come because they didn't fully understand that they had pushed a girl into doing something too soon.

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  18. So important to teach this in this day and age. As always an excellent post Debbie and very well thought out. Popping over from the #binkylinky

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  19. Interesting post and the sort of thing I need to start thinking about. My oldest has just turned 10 so this scenario is still hopefully a way away but it is never too early to teach them how to take control of their own bodies, what is appropriate and what isn't etc. We have an interesting angle on this as have just moved to a country where hugging (including teachers hugging children) is very normal and expected. We will move back to our home country where it certainly isn't unless you know someone well. We will have to be careful to make sure they know what is ok and what isn't when we return.

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    1. That could actually work to your advantage, because when you teach them the boundaries on touching people and what is and isn't acceptable, this conversation would be a natural extension to that.

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  20. Mine are only little but I will be teaching both of them this. I also want them to know it's THEIR right to say no as well they don't need to be all macho and braggy. It's always better to wait.

    Thanks for linking to #effitfriday

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    1. That's an excellent point Laura, one I hadn't thought of. It can happen that the girl can feel ready and try to push the boy into before they are ready! Thanks for hosting :)

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  21. Such a good read and a really important post. You make very excellent points, particularly about the detail to which we should be teaching our kids! I agree we should be teaching both our boys and our girls :)

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  22. You write really well which is so important when addressing an issue like this. I agree with what you say. It's important to teach this to children. Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky

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    1. Thank you Emily :) It really is important. Thanks for hosting x

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  23. I have always taught my kids that no one gets to do anything to them that they don't feel comfortable with, in terms of touching them, or anything physical if they don't want or feel comfortable. I don't even make them hug people they don't know or want to and I get irritated when well meaning family make a fuss about cuddles or hugs. Now my daughter is older, she knows that her body is her body and no one does anything she doesn't want to. I think being honest and open and teaching our kids confidence to know consent and what it is is vital. Thank you for this. #EffitFriday

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    1. I hate when people make their children hug others against their will. Not everyone likes being touchy feely. It is a great start point for teaching them that it is their choice who does or doesn't touch them. Thank you for sharing your experiences :)

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  24. As the parent of a boy, I feel a huge responsibility to teach the importance of respect, consent and generally being a feminist. I think I would find it easier to teach a girl because of my own experiences as one, but I do worry about being able to teach my son values and the importance of consent. Am reading any tips very closely!

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    1. It's great that you are teaching your son those values. I know what you mean about it might be easier to teach a girl, but for to teach a boy your experiences still could be used. You can teach him how it feels from a girl's point of view at that moment when she wants to stop what's happening but needs that reassurance.

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  25. Great post as usual really interesting read thanks for linking to the binkylinky

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  26. I love this. I have a 15 year old daughter and we have had some talks about this, we share fairly openly. But this is something I never thought to address, believe me, we will be talking about this and the words to use and why! Thanks so much!

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    1. Thanks Nikki, I'm so glad to hear you will be having this talk with your daughter, I hope it all goes well :)

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  27. Very important point and definitely worth instilling in children from an early age.
    Thanks for sharing on #SundayStars

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  28. Great post about consent! I will definitely use these methods when my children are in their teens. #BinkyLinky

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    1. Thank you, I'm glad you found it helpful :)

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  29. Great advice and tips here. I have many years to get here with this talk with my two but I hope they both do the right thing. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me blog hop.

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    1. Thank you :) Yes, I think you have a fair few years before you have to worry about it!

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  30. This is a great post Debbie and such a topic that needs to be discussed with all our youth! I have a 15 year old boy with raging hormones and has a girlfriend that I know is testing those hormones. His dad has always been good about discussing everything when it comes to sex and as parents we can only hope it absorbs. Thank you for sharing this brilliant post with #momsterslink.

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    1. Thank you :) I think a lot of it does go in, even if they would ever admit it as teens. Thanks for hosting!

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  31. Great post. It's such an important message. Despite the boys being young this is something I've already been drilling into them. Also the fact that an absence of yes doesn't make it a no.

    Thanks for linking up with us on the #bigfatlinky hope to see you there this week

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    1. Sorry I meant an absence of a no doesn't make it a yes!!

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    2. Thank you :) I think the sooner this message is taught, the more likely it is to stick. I figured you meant that, but thanks for clearing it up :) Thanks for hosting, I'll be there!

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