The unfortunate reality of child sexual assault and sexual images all over television tells us the importance of talking to children about consent and safety. And it doesn’t have to be a big uncomfortable sit-down meeting about sex. There are many ways to talk to children about consent and safety, here are a few tips:
Teaching your child personal boundaries can start early, this can be by naming parts of the body and teaching them which parts are especially private. Or by talking to them about asking for physical affection before giving it to another person, and not forcing them to receive physical affection if they do not want it.
The value of “no”
Children are often taught to follow the rules, and always listen to adults while this is important, it is also important that they understand that saying “no” is okay if someone is touching them in a way that makes them uncomfortable. They also need to understand when someone else tells them “no” they should listen because they could be making the other person uncomfortable.
Children can be manipulated into keeping secrets from their parents for fear that they might get in trouble. Try to be a safe place for your children to come to you and share information.
Real life example
While watching television, or movies if you see an action that does or does not show consent, use the situation as an example by asking your child what they thought of the action and talking about it. There are portrayals of non-consensual activity that, if ignored might teach children that these behaviors are okay. You can also lead by example with positive actions towards other people, showing your child how to respectfully treat others.
When children get older, having conversations more specific about sexual assault and dating violence is important even though they may not be thinking about it. Anyone can commit sexual assault, just as anyone can become a victim of sexual assault.
Call The Shelter to learn more ways of talking about consent and safety, these are only a few tips.