Ideally, children will get all of the information they need at home from their parents, but school should also be an important source of information.
Here is why:
Every time we had a sex talk back in high school, the coordinator would have a box where we would drop pieces of papers anonymously with questions to be answered at the end of the forum. Most of the questions that were asked are:
I know you might be thinking, these are just basic straight forward questions. Now that I am all grown up, I think these questions were real concerns for us because we had never been taught about sex.
The only basic thing was, “Do not have sex until you are married!” and “If you have sex you will get pregnant and your parents will be pissed!”
Lack of sex education- both by parents and in schools- is a major crisis that has major ripple effects through many parts of society.
Lack of sex education in schools has been identified as a major contributory factor to the high rate of teenage pregnancy and unsafe abortion in the country.
Believe it or not, every girl or boy ill one day has to make a life-changing decision about their sexual and reproductive health.
So imagine the gap that exists in the lack of knowledge that these young people require to make these kinds of decisions responsibly. This is why most of our young people are vulnerable to early pregnancies, coercion, and STI’s.
This is what we recommend. A Comprehensive Sexuality Education.
Comprehensive sexuality education is based on an approach that focusses on gender and rights.
Whether in school or at home, this kind of sex education is taught throughout the adolescent life, to every age group depending on information relevant to their ages.
There are various things you can cover.
First are facts about human anatomy, reproductive health, and human development. You can go deeper on topics like contraception, consent, sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and childbirth.
Apart from pumping the youth with information, it is good to nurture positive values regarding their sexual and reproductive health. Such values are based on relationships, culture, gender roles, sexual abuse, and human rights. It is what I refer to as holistic sexuality education.
With these kind of knowledge, our young people will develop skills like critical thinking, communication, responsible decision making, and self-esteem.
Talking to children about sex is not an easy task.
If you are keen on the news an social media, there have been so many cases of early pregnancies, sexual assault cases, kidnappings, deaths, and sexually transmitted diseases.
This means that the one talk you gave your children about the birds and the bees is not enough. You should have an ongoing talk frequently according to the age they are in.
Ideally, children will get all of the information they need at home from their parents, but school should also be an important source of information.
Here is why:
There has been a huge debate in the past about providing condoms in school and teaching contraception to teenagers.
It has been said that giving these options will make them promiscuous.
To be honest, teaching comprehensive sex education doesn’t have the downside most people are afraid of.
Providing these options does not encourage adolescents to start having sex earlier, it only helps them be safe in case they choose to have sex.
In this generation, they are already having sex at a very early age so it is good that they have safe sex.
There have been so many efforts to curb teenage pregnancies but you have seen how the numbers have risen recently especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Poverty is one of the primary causes of teenage pregnancies but so is a lack of sex education.
Immediately your child starts becoming eager and curious about their body, you should start educating them right there and continue throughout each stage of their lives.
Abstaining from sex before marriage is a tradition that the current generation does not hold in high regard.
As a parent, you have to accept this hard truth and talk to your children about protecting themselves, making informed decisions, and keeping healthier sexualities.
If you feel like “No! my child will abstain from sex”, which is admirable, you are still not exempted from teaching them about sex.
They too need sex education. If a child grows being well informed, he or she will be empowered by that information and will respect people’s opinions and sexualities.
Furthermore, your child will not source information from their peers or the internet. We all know these sources are not reliable because of misinformation.
Do you know why you hear teenagers having oral sex and anal sex instead of vaginal sex?
It is because they do not have accurate information about alternative sexual behaviors.
Young people think that oral sex is incompatible with abstinence because abstinence involves vaginal intercourse so they believe.
With a comprehensive sex education approach, teenagers will be more informed about participating in alternative sexual behaviors instead of falsely assuming these alternatives are safe.
If we do not teach sex education, we will have generations that are completely unequipped to advocate for their bodily autonomy and are extremely ashamed about any sexuality that they’ve experienced.
We will fail generations of women when we set them up to be hurt, and we failed those generations of men when we fed them toxic masculinity instead of teaching them about consent and pleasure for all bodies.
If we’re to move forward, we need to find a way to build systems that educate and protect. What Do you think?
Easter holiday is around the corner and it is an exciting time for family get-togethers, yummy food, sweet traditions, funny stories, and lots and lots of love.
Have you ever found yourself telling your child, “Uncle just got here—go give him a big hug!” or “Auntie gave you that nice toy, go give her a kiss,” This means that you were worried your child might not offer affection on her own and that is why you urged them to do this.
If you have said this to your child before, you might want to reconsider the urge to do that in the future.
Think of it this way, telling your child that she owes someone a hug either just because she hasn’t seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift can set the stage for her questioning whether she “owes” another person any type of physical affection when they’ve bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life.
“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children,” says Girl Scouts Organization- developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older.
Plus, sadly, we know that some adults prey on children, and teaching your daughter about consent early on can help her understand her rights, know when lines are being crossed, and when to go to you for help.”
Give your girl the space to decide when and how she wants to show affection.
Of course, many children may naturally want to hug and kiss family members, friends, and neighbors, and that’s lovely—but if your daughter is reticent, consider letting her choose what to do.
Of course, this doesn’t give her license to be rude!
There are many other ways to show appreciation, thankfulness, and love that don’t require physical contact.
RELATED CONTENT: 6 Tips on How To Nurture a Child’s Mental Health.
Saying how much she’s missed someone or thank you with a smile, a high-five, or even an air kiss are all ways she can express herself, and it’s important that she knows she gets to choose which feels most comfortable to her.
Is it ok to hug a kid that doesn’t want to be hugged? No, it isn’t.
I know you might get offended by the sheer suggestion that kids should have a say in whether they want to be hugged or not. What you might not know is that a small act of respecting a kid’s wishes can go a long way in shaping their understanding of consent, enables them to respect their own body and emboldens them to say no.
It remains irrelevant if the hug or, for that matter, any other form of expression of affection, is non-sexual. It also doesn’t even have to be an exchange between an adult and a child.
Parents can teach their kids about boundaries and consent when it comes to expressing affection or even physical contact.
In a largely patriarchal world, it would go a long way in teaching boys, early on in their lives, that they are not entitled to any affection from any gender.
A loved one expecting a hug from a child creates the impression that they owe it to them. A majority of the abusive relationships stem from an imbalance of power where one person is made to feel like they owe affection to their partner.
Some of you might wave away this concern and accuse us of blowing an innocent family interaction out of proportion. But I think this has long been a (very controversial) topic in parenting circles.
After CNN’s Katia Hetter wrote an article advocating for such a practice in 2015, readers responded with various opinions. Some shared difficult stories from their childhood that they carried with them well into their adult years. For Example:
“I raised my children this way over 20 years ago. Why did we do this? Because I had been a victim of sexual abuse by a family ‘friend’ for many years as a child. I did not want my children to think they had to hug or touch others unless the contact was wanted,” one reader wrote.
Others didn’t understand the big deal and argued that family obligation sometimes means doing uncomfortable things.
“You’re damn right you’re going to hug the woman who gave your mother/father life so you could have life,” another reader wrote.
That said, think about it the next time you want to urge your child to hug or kiss anyone.
I know sometimes as parents we do things to our children without even realizing it, but it is time to do better and not let our sons and daughter get the wrong idea about consent and physical affection.
Enjoy Your Easter Holidays!!!
INCASE YOU MISSED IT:
When I go to the shop every morning, our gate man and his friends will not let a lady pass by the gate without uttering words like “mrembo leo hunisalimii?”- “Beautiful come and say hi”. You can imagine how you look in the morning – baggy t-shirt or hoodie, sweatpants or tights, and they still catcall us which is very irritating. Most of the times I just pass by without saying anything or when am in a good mood I just wave and move along.
I am sure millions of women and girls around the world will have heard phrases like that. “Hey Sexy!” “Hey Beautiful!” “Ouh your body this or that!” or something like it. Some might say that it’s harmless, just a joke, or perhaps even a compliment.
But to be honest catcalling is none of those things. It’s an explicit demonstration of power, one that is intended to frighten or intimidate the person it’s addressed to. It is based in deep-rooted gender inequality, which sees women’s bodies as not their own.
In my opinion, in the context of gender, harassment often ends up being a way for men to exert control over women and their bodies. Shouting a crude comment about a woman’s appearance suggests entitlement to her body. Groping or stalking or simply standing too close without a woman’s permission shows entitlement to her space. Expecting a woman to talk to you while or after you harass her displays entitlement to her time. Do You Agree?
Catcalling is when an individual whistles, shouts, or makes sexual comments toward another individual as they are walking by. Women are often the ones faced with having to deal with this ridiculous issue. The fact that I get a little nervous when I decide to get dressed up because I don’t feel like getting harassed, is a problem. You shouldn’t have to feel self-conscious or nervous every time you get dressed to head out the door or every time you pass by men on the street.
Street harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of violence against women and girls. It’s a type of sexual harassment and includes catcalling, unwanted comments, gestures, honking and uninvited sexual advances from strangers in a public place.
When you face harassment as part of your daily life, whether it’s while going for a run or getting the bus to see friends, what does that do? It holds you back right?
You are compelled to change your clothes, or routes to work just to try to avoid it. It can even prevent you from working, from socialising, from learning, and from living with freedom and dignity.
This is not acceptable. No woman or girl should feel afraid in the streets of her own city.
We help and interact with many women and girls in the rural areas we operate and they have stories to tell about street harassment. One would think thank living in the rural areas is a bit safer than urban areas but we were wrong.
Women and girls living in poverty are even more vulnerable to this sort of street harassment. For example, Rose Wanjiru attends a local school in Kangai village, Kenya. She is only 12 years old, but she and her friends are often harassed by men as they walk to and from school. Rose says:
“On my way home, we often get catcalls from the farm workers and boda boda [motorcycle taxi] riders. My biggest wish is that we get an education, the men should leave us alone.”
RELATED CONTENT: See How we are Raising Funds to help our Beneficiaries like Rose to stay in school.
Jackline Wamwitha, Our eldest girl belongs to the Protect a Girls Image-supported girls’ club at her school. The club is a safe spacewhere the girls learn about their rights and gain the confidence to report harassment and abuse. Jackline looks out for other girls at school. She says: “I tell my friends: don’t pay attention to those men.”
In addition to girls’ clubs, Protect a Girls Image is working with women’s groups and training government officials, police, health workers and legal advisers in Kenya on how to best to tackle violence against women and girls.
By working closely with local commuities, PGIO is tackling gender-based street harassment at its root, by challenging the behaviours and gender inequalities that cause it.
Sometimes, no response is the best response (especially if you’re concerned about escalating the situation). Some harassers might enjoy any sort of attention, so ignoring the foolishness is the best bet. Hopefully, they will eventually get a clue and stop catcalling completely.
If you’re a quick thinker with a strong voice, then responding may be a good choice. If you feel safe enough to do so, assertively respond to the harassers calmly, firmly and without insults or personal attacks to let them know that their actions are unwelcome, unacceptable and wrong. It’s one way to turn the situation around.
Sometimes kindness is the most unexpected, confusing, and wonderful response of all. So if some guy is saying garbage about your appearance, you can respond with quiet sympathy. “You must be in a bad place to comment on stranger’s bodies like that. I hope life gets better for you.” You can say, with full sincerity. Then sashay away!
If you are being harassed at work you can air your views and let Human Resources know that their employees are harassing people on the job and why that is unacceptable. I know you might be thinking “what will my colleagues think and what if I lose my job” If we don’t start standing up for ourselves now then when?
If you see a lady being harassed, please help them out of the situation and let the harasser know that their actions are not condoned by others. Ask her if she wants help and what she’d like you to do or simply check in to see if she is OK. Majority of street harassers look to other men for approval so they might gang up on you.
If you Donate to Protect A Girls’ Image Education Funding>>>HERE, you can help us support more Girls in School, so that they can be educated on preventing and responding to harassment and violence. Here’s what your money could do:
The most common defense that men have against this issue is that catcalls are their way of “complimenting” a woman’s looks. Going up to a woman and telling her she’s beautiful is one thing, but shouting “damn!” “hey sexy!” or whistling and honking the car horn as a woman walks by is a different story.
Catcalling can even get to the point of being dangerous if women decide defend themselves or ignore the cat-callers, because often they will get offended causing them to act in an aggressive or intimidating manner by name calling or going as far as assaulting women. It’s important that you assess your situation and ensure your safety before responding.
What men need to understand is that catcalling is not cute, funny, or complimenting. It’s harassment, degrading, and disgusting. It lets women know they are being objectified and looked at as nothing more than a piece of meat. It makes women feel as though they have no rights or values. Women are not dogs to be whistled at and they are not sexual objects. Women are more than their looks. Women have the right to be treated with as much respect and dignity when walking down the street as any man. Women deserve to feel safe!!
As much as parents try to keep their children safe, it is not always possible be to protect them from impending traumatic experiences. In the wake of a traumatic event, your comfort, support and reassurance as a parent can make children feel safe, help them manage their fears, guide them through their grief, and help them recover in a healthy way.
Before I get into it, let us first be clear what trauma is.
Trauma is an emotional response to an intense event that threatens or causes harm. The harm can be physical or emotional, real or perceived, and it can threaten the child or someone close to him or her. Trauma can be the result of a single event, or it can result from exposure to multiple events over time.
Potentially traumatic events may include:
The intense, confusing, and frightening emotions that follow a traumatic event or natural disaster can be even more pronounced in children and teens. Such events can undermine their sense of security, leaving them feeling helpless and vulnerable—especially if the event stemmed from an act of violence, such as a physical assault, mass shooting, or terrorist attack. Even kids or teens not directly affected by a disaster can become traumatized when repeatedly exposed to horrific images of the event on the news or social media.
2. Brains (Thinking)
3. Emotions (feeling)
It is important to remember two words when working with anyone experiencing trauma and hurt: “hope” and “encouragement.” This isn’t about telling someone they should paint over all their problems with happy thoughts. Instead, it is about offering a way out from the despair left over from trauma.
Talk to your child about what happened. There is no way to manage trauma without at least acknowledging that it happened. Most people are raised in homes where no one talks about “the elephant in the room.” But if you want to help a person heal from any type of hurt or trauma, it is important to discuss it.
Once you begin talking about difficult subjects, you give your child permission to as well. You are teaching them it is okay to talk about these things.
Reassure your child. The event was not their fault, you love them, and it’s OK for them to feel upset, angry, or scared.
Don’t pressure your child into talking. It can be very difficult for some kids to talk about a traumatic experience. A young child may find it easier to draw a picture illustrating their feelings rather than talk about them. You can then talk with your child about what they’ve drawn.
Be honest. While you should tailor the information you share according to your child’s age, honesty is important. Don’t say nothing’s wrong if something is wrong.
Do “normal” activities with your child that have nothing to do with the traumatic event. Encourage your child to seek out friends and pursue games, sports, and hobbies that they enjoyed before the incident. Go on family outings to the park or beach, enjoy a games night, or watch a funny or uplifting movie together.
Physical activity can burn off adrenaline, release mood-enhancing endorphins, and help your child sleep better at night.
Find a sport that your child enjoys. Activities such as basketball, soccer, running, martial arts, or swimming that require moving both the arms and legs can help rouse your child’s nervous system from that “stuck” feeling that often follows a traumatic experience.
Offer to participate in sports, games, or physical activities with your child. If they seem resistant to get off the couch, play some of their favorite music and dance together. Once a child gets moving, they’ll start to feel more energetic.
Encourage your child to go outside to play with friends or a pet and blow off steam.
Schedule a family outing to a hiking trail, swimming pool, or park.
Take younger children to a playground, activity center, or arrange play dates.
Children are often impressionable. It is so easy to teach a child that they cannot trust themselves. Particularly in abusive homes, children are taught not to feel or to think on their own. They are usually taught to do what their parent says without question and to overlook their own experiences.
Teaching a child to trust their intuition is not overly difficult, though it often takes time. Start by having a discussion with your child about how important it is to trust one’s own inner voice, or conscience. Continue asking your child how they feel about certain experiences. This act will help your child learn that to look inside is an important aspect of life.
Children who’ve experienced a traumatic event can often find relentless media coverage to be further traumatizing. Excessive exposure to images of a disturbing event—such as repeatedly viewing video clips on social media or news sites—can even create traumatic stress in children or teens who were not directly affected by the event.
Limit your child’s media exposure to the traumatic event. Don’t let your child watch the news or check social media just before bed, and make use of parental controls on the TV, computer, and tablet to prevent your child from repeatedly viewing disturbing footage.
As much as you can, watch news reports of the traumatic event with your child. You can reassure your child as you’re watching and help place information in context.
Avoid exposing your child to graphic images and videos. It’s often less traumatizing for a child or teen to read the newspaper rather than watch television coverage or view video clips of the event.
Most children (and really, most adults) are not taught how to grieve. Most people are taught “Don’t cry,” “Keep difficult emotions to yourself,” “Be strong,” “Move on,” and other similar methods of coping with loss. When working with emotionally injured children, you can best help them by not only teaching them how to talk about their feelings, but also about how to grieve.
How do you do this? There are a couple of ways:
One is through personal example. Here, you demonstrate your own grief about something.
Another is when you ask your child questions, such as, “What do you miss about so-and-so?” Or, “If you could talk to so-and-so, what would you say?” Try to ask open-ended questions that generate feelings.
Grieving involves processing through feelings until they are complete. Children need not analyze this concept. They just need permission to talk, cry, be angry, and express their emotions until they are done. Grief is finished when it’s finished. There is no timeline for grief, and everyone processes emotions on their own schedule. Talk to your child about these concepts and give them permission to “process” through any feelings at their own pace.
The food your child eats can have a profound impact on their mood and ability to cope with traumatic stress. Processed and convenience food, sugary foods and snacks can create mood swings and worsen symptoms of traumatic stress. Conversely, eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, can help your child better cope with the ups and downs that follow a disturbing experience.
Focus on overall diet rather than specific foods. Kids should be eating whole, minimally processed food—food that is as close to its natural form as possible.
Limit fried food, sweet desserts, sugary snacks and cereals, and refined flour. These can all exacerbate symptoms of traumatic stress in kids.
Be a role model. The childhood impulse to imitate is strong so don’t ask your child to eat vegetables while you gorge on soda and French fries.
Cook more meals at home. Restaurant and takeout meals have more added sugar and unhealthy fat so cooking at home can have a huge impact on your kids’ health. If you make large batches, cooking just a few times can be enough to feed your family for the whole week.
Make mealtimes about more than just food. Gathering the family around a table for a meal is an ideal opportunity to talk and listen to your child without the distraction of TV, phones, or computers.
One important topic you can introduce to your child is the concept of boundaries. Boundaries can be physical and emotional. Physical boundaries include a person’s body and physical space. Emotional boundaries include how a person is treated emotionally, mentally, and psychologically.
Art is one effective intervention for teaching children this concept. You can draw a picture of a line, wall, or some type of boundary indicator. On one side of the line, write down attributes of healthy boundaries, such as, “respect,” or “does not touch me in a way that is unsafe.” On the “boundary violation” side of the barrier, write a list of unhealthy boundary violators, such as “name calling,” or “yelling.” You and your child can create this drawing together.
Of course, you will need to use age-appropriate language. The main concern is to teach your child emotional intelligence and about how to protect themselves from unsafe relationships.
Teach your child that it is okay to talk about difficult memories. Explain that they have a “hurt self” that needs to be healed. In addition, let your child know they aren’t only hurt, but that they also have a “healthy self” or “strong self” capable of overcoming hard things. The strong self will help heal the hurt self.
To help your child identify what is hurt, you can ask questions about thoughts, fears, feelings, and dreams. See if your child can identify how they experience the pain from the trauma they have endured. If your child is not interested in going that deep, just talk to them. Say, “I know you are hurt. Here are some suggestions for helping yourself heal.”
It is helpful for parents and other significant leaders in a child’s life to learn how to teach them important life lessons, especially those involving emotions. Since most people generally do not understand emotional health, this can prove challenging—mainly, because most people haven’t been taught themselves.
I recommend drawing two pictures for your child: one a hurt child, and one a healthy child. The hurt child could look sad and have tears. The strong child could look steadfast and concerned. Teach your child that these two “parts of self” exist within them, and that their job is to learn how to nurture and heal the hurt part of the self.
Trauma can alter the way a child sees the world, making it suddenly seem a much more dangerous and frightening place. Your child may find it more difficult to trust both their environment and other people. You can help by rebuilding your child’s sense of safety and security.
Create routines. Establishing a predictable structure and schedule to your child’s or teen’s life can help to make the world seem more stable again. Try to maintain regular times for meals, homework, and family activities.
Minimize stress at home. Try to make sure your child has space and time for rest, play, and fun.
Manage your own stress. The more calm, relaxed and focused you are, the better you’ll be able to help your child.
Speak of the future and make plans. This can help counteract the common feeling among traumatized children that the future is scary, bleak, and unpredictable.
Keep your promises. You can help to rebuild your child’s trust by being trustworthy. Be consistent and follow through on what you say you’re going to do.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t be afraid to admit it. Don’t jeopardize your child’s trust in you by making something up.
Remember that children often personalize situations. They may worry about their own safety even if the traumatic event occurred far away. Reassure your child and help place the situation in context.
Help your child identify things they tell themselves about life or personal identity. Beliefs children often have when hurt tend to be very personalized; beliefs such as, “I am unlovable,” “The world is not safe,” or “I will never be happy again.” Any type of negative, devaluing belief can be ingrained in a child’s head for years, decades, or even a lifetime. It is beneficial to help your child identify these beliefs early on.
Have your child write down a list of unhealthy beliefs. Some include thoughts such as, “If I were a better child, my mother would not be on drugs,” “If I were thinner, my friend would not have rejected me,” or “I need to be a perfect student to have a good life.” If your child is old enough, work with them to identify unhealthy beliefs.
Once these unhealthy thoughts have been identified, make a list of helpful, healing beliefs for your child to replace the unhealthy thoughts. After this, remind your child to replace the unhealthy beliefs with the healthy beliefs. Make sure they understand this process is building an essential inner recovery “muscle” and will require practice to develop.
Usually, your child’s feelings of anxiety, numbness, confusion, guilt, and despair following a traumatic event will start to fade within a relatively short time. However, if the traumatic stress reaction is so intense and persistent that it’s interfering with your child’s ability to function at school or home, they may need help from a mental health professional—preferably a trauma specialist.
Warning signs include:
When children experience abuse, abandonment or other deep hurts, the adults in their lives may not know how to help them. Many people believe topics like psychological healing only belong to the professionals. But “professionals,” however helpful they may be, do not have enough time to impact children in the same way as those who are involved with them daily.
Whatever the age of your child, it’s important to offer extra reassurance and support following a traumatic event. A child’s reaction to a disaster or trauma can be greatly influenced by their parents’ response, so it’s important to educate yourself about trauma and traumatic stress. The more you know about the symptoms, effects, and treatment options, the better equipped you’ll be to help your child recover. With your love and support, the unsettling thoughts and feelings of traumatic stress can start to fade and your child’s life can return to normal in the days or weeks following the event.
It’s not an easy thing to talk with your kids about sex. We live in a culture soaked in sexuality where selling everything from cars to toys to clothing to the food we eat. You as a Parent have talked to your girls about losing virginity, boys and masturbation. But how many times have you properly educated your boys about how to identify and ask for consent??
Our society is plagued by a worsening epidemic of sexual violence, and as a mother and a survivor of sexual assault, I feel compelled to do whatever I can to change that.
It’s practically impossible to scroll through social media or watch the news without seeing some report of sexual assault, but the focus of these stories is the emphasis often placed on what girls should to do protect themselves: they should avoid wearing provocative clothing, they should never walk alone at night; they should take self-defense classes, and never get drunk at a party.
There is little mention of what should be done to stop our boys from growing into men who are capable of committing these heinous acts in the first place. I think we believe that if we teach our kids the difference between right and wrong, assuming that it goes without saying that sexual assault is the latter then we’ve done our job.
You might be thinking, Why is she favoring the Girl child? Honestly, I am not. The reality is both boys and girls should be educated.
By the time you hit them with the talk, children of all ages have already gotten a bunch of messages about sex, relationships, and consent from somewhere else. From cartoons to fairy tales, school mates, pop songs, siblings to the kid next door… by the time your child can comprehend these stories, they’ve already internalized some concepts.
So as a parent, it’s your job to translate, explain, debunk, and convey these messages.
The most important thing you can teach both boys and girls is sexual consent. So what it is? How can you give it and how do you ask for it? Most importantly, why it is so important for healthy relationships?
I am going to give an overview of what consent lessons can look like for most families.
Consent education should start as soon as kids can understand the foundation concepts behind it. So where do you start? Giving your child the correct, scientific vocabulary to describe their body parts, including words like:
There are two major reasons to stay away from code words and slang. First and foremost, correct labels break down stigma and create a person who is sex positive and not embarrassed to talk about their bodies with their parents — not to mention a future teen who isn’t afraid to openly and clearly communicate with their romantic partner.
When we use coded language with little kids, it sounds like something we keep secret and don’t talk about, and that’s not the message we want to send.
The next step when they are still at a young age is to teach them bodily autonomy. It is teaching that they have total control over what happens to their body.
Respect your kids’ wishes when it comes to hugging, kissing, cuddling, and tickling. The big example here is that they aren’t “forced” to hug and kiss anyone, even grandma. Children should get to choose their level of contact based on their level of comfort. Learn to respect their NO! “Okay, why should I do that? I am the adult here”. Point is, they should clearly understand and expect that when someone says “no” to bodily contact, that request should be immediately respected.
In addition to letting your child know that they get to choose when someone touches them, you should also begin teaching them that consent goes both ways. You can start by teaching them to ask their friends if they like to be hugged before going in for an embrace.
A vital part of teaching bodily autonomy at this age is also educating your friends and family about boundaries, too. This way Grandma doesn’t get offended when she doesn’t get a kiss. She should know that it’s not a requirement that her grandchildren hug and kiss her or sit on her lap and you can teach her that she can offer alternatives.
When you teach your kid bodily autonomy, you’re not only teaching them to say no, you’re teaching them lots of consent-related skills. Like saying, ‘Can I high five you instead?’ when a hug isn’t wanted.
You’re mirroring what it looks like to be refused. If your child refuses a hug, you can say, ‘I know you still love me even if you don’t want to hug me.’ That statement shows that physical touch isn’t bad or wrong in this relationship, just that in this moment, you don’t want physical touch.”
As your children grow older, your lessons about consent and autonomy can increase in complexity.
This is a good time to discuss concepts like coercion, when someone persuades you to consent to something against your original will. You can also discuss how to set healthy boundaries with people, and what they should do if those boundaries are violated.
At this age range, it’s imperative to talk to your children in depth about sexism and gender bias. Why? Sexism and misogyny have a lot to do with consent and can lead to harmful myths and misconceptions about consent and relationships, such as:
There are gender roles that can cause sexual scripts that can be harmful to sexual intimacy. For example, when a male asks a female for sex, and the female is responsible for saying no. That’s based on a harmful stereotype that men are always horny and ready for sex. It seems complex but you would be surprised at how much a child in middle school will understand this so well.
This is also a time to help your children to become independent critical thinkers by using examples of media they consume. They’re going to get harmful messages even when you aren’t around, and they must have the skills to think critically about them.
If you see sexism in the world around you, such as in music, television, movies, or real-life situations, point it out and ask them what they think. Help them reach their own conclusions.
For example, In most movie scenes, verbal consent is absent, which is a problem within itself. If you’re watching a movie with a kissing scene with your pre-teen, you might ask, “How do you think he knew that she wanted him to kiss her?”
I know you mostly focus on telling your children what they should not do. But you should focus on teaching your child what they should do, but helping them understand why you have the values you have, how you came to a decision in your own life, and how they could come to decisions on their own
Please! Please! Avoid too much lecturing and instead try to have two-way conversations.
This is also the age when children might start asking you questions about sex and sexuality that you may not be prepared to answer but they’re mature enough to understand.
Don’t be afraid to say that you can talk about it another time, like after dinner so that you can have time to mentally prepare. Also, be sure to leave the door open for more discussion and be sure to end the conversation with a supportive statement, like, “I appreciate that you came and talked to me about this.”
High schoolers and young adults are ready to learn concrete lessons about sexual consent and healthy sexual relationships in full detail. These may be some of the toughest lessons to teach for parents, but they’re the most vital pieces to help your kids understand consent and build healthy relationships.
One mistake parents make when discussing consent is that they have limited talks with their children and male children mostly get different talks than female children.
For example, males tend to get only enough information about consent to prevent illegal actions related to rape and assault, while women may only get enough information to prevent their own rape and assault.
This form of “disaster prevention” sex education may indeed prevent some legal issues, but it doesn’t help break down our foundation cultural issues about consent or lend toward building enjoyable, equitable relationships. Please be sure to discuss the following issues:
Teach them to know what verbal consent sounds like, as well as how you can ask. They should also know what nonverbal consent looks like. They should understand if that their partner is very quiet, or lying still, that that isn’t the enthusiastic consent they’re looking for, and it’s time to communicate before they keep going.
LESSON: While teens might be learning about issues like birth control, rape, and sexually transmitted infections, they’re lacking knowledge that they both need and crave regarding consent and healthy relationships. This additional knowledge is key to preventing sexual assault and sexual violence.
You are probably cringing from the word Pornography. Our teenagers are mostly on their phones right? You can’t ignore that your teen is very likely exploring pornography in some form.
Without a proper education from parents about what pornography is, how it functions, and its issues, kids can take away misguided messages about sex, relationships, and intimacy. At worse, these beliefs can become harmful to others.
Pornography is not a very realistic portrayal of sex. A lot of porn doesn’t portray women well, and there are a lot of mixed messages about consent. For example, teen girls may compare themselves to the women in porn and feel inferior while boys may fear that they won’t be able to sexually perform like the men in porn
70 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds wished that they’d received more information from their parents, about the emotional and romantic aspects of relationships, including how to:
All of these issues are tied in many ways to understanding consent.
Again, start discussions with your children while consuming media or after you see a good or poor example of a healthy relationship. Ask them how they feel and what they think, and get them to think critically about what it means to be a caring romantic partner and what it means to be cared for.
Remember, I am not giving all this information just so you can avoid assault. It is about creating healthy people who have the tools and skills to have healthy and happy romantic relationships.
Teaching our kids about consent might seem awkward at first, not only because it involves the subject of sex, but also because the majority of today’s adults didn’t get consent education as kids. However, one of the most rewarding aspects of parenting is our ability to break harmful cycles, create new standards, and improve life for our kids and the next generation.
Even if you have older children and missed out on earlier lessons, it’s never too late to start teaching your kids about the importance of sexual consent.
In this digital age, with the Internet at their fingertips, all the parental controls in the world won’t keep our children from seeking out the answers to any questions they might have about their bodies and sex. It’s natural for them to be curious, but if you start an open conversation with them at a young age, if they know you won’t scold them or tell them that they are too young to think about “those” kinds of things, they will be more likely to come to you for information rather than other sources.
I hope this article will be a good guide in helping you talk about sex with your children. Feel free to ask any questions or give Feedback. We Love It!
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To me, rape is a subject that hits very close to home, so for me to go over this topic did not only give me a lot of information, but it also brought back previous memories and emotions. There were two main things that really caught my attention.
Being a parent is compiled of so many firsts and big moments you look forward to with your children. One of them most parents do not look forward to is Sex Education. Most parents find this conversation very uncomfortable. Let’s face it, my generation really didn’t get much talks as our parent’s generation did not talk about Sex at all!! But in this generation, I am surprised that 10 year olds know about Sex and it’s not from our parents, but from the internet, movies and magazines.