Teenagehood is a stage of life that is very frequently accompanied by exploration. Whether it is intentional or not, there has been some confusion expressed by young people when it comes to the issue of sex and consent.
Several young adults have been faced with rape and didn’t realise it at the time because although they were familiar with the word, they didn’t understand that a family member or their crush could do it and they wish their parents had explicitly talked to them about it.
Teach them what consent is?
Oxford English dictionary defines consent as ‘permission for something to happen or agreement to do something’. Simply put, consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal, terms or desires of another person.
Like any other type of consent, a person can only give sexual consent when the giver is conscious and of sound mind.
UNCONSCIOUS OR SLEEPING PEOPLE CANNOT GIVE CONSENT!
Helping them understand consent
Help your teens understand that, if they or anyone they know is initiating a sexual activity or touch of any kind, they have to remember to:
- Ask the other person if the contact is okay with them.
- Listen to the response the other person gives. Their response is the most important. If they say ‘yes’, then they want the touch. If they say ‘no’, then they do not want it. DO NOT FORCE THEM. That is rape. If they aren’t sure, it’s best they leave the person alone. If they try to others and the individual pulls away, They must stop.
- Respect Others’ Choices. It is essential for your teens to understand that consent can change. A person can say yes now, and no later. Everyone is in control of their body. So they should not get mad at others if they do not want a touch or sex. They should never try to make them change their mind forcibly.
The same thing goes for if your child is the recipient. Teach them to say ‘no’ when they are uncomfortable with something and to report anyone who stalks them or refuses to take no for an answer.
Who can give sexual consent?
Young people should understand that a person needs to be conscious and lucid to be able to give consent. People who are unconscious or sleeping are not capable of giving consent. Even if they gave consent earlier and then passed out later, engaging in any activity with an unconscious person is RAPE. They have a responsibility to ensure the unconscious person is safe and report any abuse or rape witnessed.
Help your children understand that until they reach the age of consent determined by the state or country where you are, any sexual intimacy shared with them is illegal, regardless of if they expressly gave permission.
How long does sexual consent last?
Teach your children that whether they have previously given consent or not, if anyone tries to force them into any sexual activity, they have the right to say ‘no’ regardless of if they are in a relationship with the abuser or not. They should report any abuse to you — their most trusted advocate who will always believe them.
The same rules apply even if they are the initiator. Just because they are in a relationship with someone or that the person wanted such touch or sexual activity before doesn’t mean the person will always want it. They should respect the person’s right to say no, by asking their consent for each initiation.
What is rape?
Rape is engaging in any sexual activity without the consent of the other party involved. It is when a person does not respect the desires and autonomy of another person.
Several young adults have been faced with rape and didn’t recognise it at the time because although they were familiar with the word, they didn’t understand that it could happen with a family member or their crush and they wish their parents had explicitly talked to them about it.
As they grow older, read and discuss stories from multiple sources, openly and calmly talk about it, and involve your children in discussions about the complexities of rape. Never place any blame on the victim. So they would be confident to speak up should they be in the situation. Continuously point out that rape is rape and force is still force — irrespective of the circumstance or type of relationship shared by the two people.
Consent is required for ALL sexual activity to take place. They have to ask, listen and respect.