Consent takes place when someone agrees to and gives permission to an activity by saying, “Yes.” Consent is always freely given and each party must feel like they are able to say “Yes” or “No,” and if they say “Yes,” can still stop the activity at any point. If there is not a deliberate “Yes,” then the answer is by default “No,” which means that if someone cannot find their voice to say anything, then the answer is also “No.”
You can teach children consent from day one, through every developmental stage. By starting the conversation early, your children have more time to internalize body-safety rules and practice setting boundaries.
And you can also model consent through your own actions. Ask your child if she wants a kiss or a hug. Just because you want to give them one, doesn’t mean they want one. If your children can’t say “No” to you, how will they be able to say “No” to anyone else?
Minors, of course, cannot give consent to sexual activity, but if you teach them about consent, when they get to a consenting age, they can be responsible and thoughtful givers and receivers of love, affection, and sexual intimacy.