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3 Ways to Get Started Talking About Consent With Your Teen

Any good sex talk between a parent and a teen must include a discussion about sexual consent. If it makes you feel uncomfortable to bring up this topic, remember that you may be protecting them from sexual violence — as either a victim or perpetrator.

1. Talk about bodily autonomy first

Tell them that they have complete control over their body, and they get to decide what they want to do and for how long. Your teen should feel comfortable saying “No” to any unwanted touch, even if they are in a relationship or have previously consented. Although body language can hint that someone is into an activity, affirmative and enthusiastic consent should be obtained before initiating any intimate activity, and that means every time.

2. Giving consent is not a “girl thing

It’s crucial to debunk gender expectations with your teen. They cannot assume that a male partner will always consent to sex because it is seen as gender expectation. On the other hand, women should not passively wait for their partner to ask them to consent. It is totally ok for guys to say “No,” and it’s totally ok for young women to ask first.

3. Start the conversation early

Don’t wait until your teen is having sex to start talking about consent. Talk to your child about consenting to touch other children’s bodies when they are playing tag, tickling each other or before giving them a hug. Most importantly, reinforce that they can say no to being touched in any way by friends or adults. The next time Aunt Mathilda comes to visit, do not force them to hug and kiss her goodbye if it makes them uncomfortable.

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