3 Tips for Talking with Teens About Consent

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3 Tips for Talking with Teens About Consent
consentWith teens, you can have deeper conversations about consent. You can use more abstract terms like “consent” and “exploitation,” and guidelines such as “Trust your intuition” and “Set sexual boundaries.”
1.  Teen Body-Safety Rules
Talk with teens about these three body-safety rules, and explore examples of coercion, manipulation, and sexting.
  • No one has the right to touch the private areas of your body without your permission. No one has the right to force, coerce, threaten, or manipulate you into engaging in any type of sexual activity.
  • You don’t have the right to touch someone else’s private areas of their body without that person’s permission. And it’s never acceptable to force, coerce, bribe, threaten, or manipulate another person into any type of sexual activity. With teens, it’s also important to discuss the legal ramifications of sexually assaultive behaviors. 
  • It’s a crime for any person (child, teen or adult) to take photos or videos of your naked body. If any person ever tries to take a photo of your private parts or naked body, refuse and tell a parent or trusted adult. Also be sure that your child knows that “sexting” – sending nude photos by cell phone – is illegal.
2.  Invite teens to think critically about consent with “What-if questions.
  • What if you consent to kiss someone and as you’re making out the person you’re with starts unbuttoning your shirt or pants?
  • What if someone you don’t know very well wants to take photos of your body, saying you could become a famous model?
  • What if you’re spending the night at a friend’s house and the friend’s older sibling or father walks around naked? What would you say or do?
  • What if someone you’re interested in starts sexting?
  • What if you are aroused and excited, and the person you’re with says, “Stop.” How will you manage your excitement (and disappointment)?
3.  Seize teachable moments to have even more conversations about consent.
For instance, the Victoria Secrets catalog comes in the mail, with photos of women in sexy lingerie on the front cover. Or, you’re watching a movie and the female clearly does not want to be kissed, but it looks like it’s going to happen anyway.
Whether you have a son or daughter, don’t miss these moments. If it’s hard to imagine having these daunting conversations, practice with your co-parent or a close friend.
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