Why we must teach our kids about consent
With revelations of rape victims sweeping through social media this past week, consent has become a dominant topic of discussion for parents on various forums and platforms. What should be done to stop our boys from growing into men who are capable of committing these heinous acts in the first place?
Obiageli Ohakim, parenting enthusiast and founder Project Baby, a resource for boosting kids learning and academic ability, said consent could be taught at any age, adding, “doesn’t apply only to sexual situations; it’s about respecting other people’s boundaries.”
She, however, noted that to begin a dialogue about consent with our kids, it is important to start from home. Below are the following ways to help your kids understand consent better:
Model it for them: When you’re going to touch your child, practice asking them if it’s okay. May I hold your hand? Can I get a kiss? These small acts can teach them that people have a say in who touches them, how they are touched and when. The hardest part is modelling this behaviour, because adults are often really bad at respecting children’s physical boundaries. But if a child doesn’t want to be hugged, kissed, or tickled, don’t do that. Never force them to receive physical affection from someone, even if it’s a family member. They have the right to say ‘no.’
Permit them to change their mind: There are times when your child will say a ‘yes’ to something but may want to change it to a ‘no.’ Permit them to change their mind and teach them to respect it when someone else changes their mind. Consent is not a blanket yes forever.
Teach them to respect ‘No’: Boys often get the idea that saying ‘no’ is weakness, which could make it hard for them to accept it from others. Instead, teach them that there is strength in saying ‘no.’ A child, who knows that he can say no if he doesn’t want to do something, is more likely to respect a ‘no.’
Seize teachable moments: Unconsciously, the media is flooded with (mis) information about what consent is, so, it’s important to let your child know what is not okay in real life.
The mum of two stressed that education from the home, starting from childhood, maybe the best bet for faster, sustained progress on eradicating gender-based violence. While public policies and interventions often overlook this stage, it is a critical time when values around gender equality are developed.
“We need to help our kids first understand consent in non-tense situations. The more practice they get at everyday consent; the better they will do when things are more intense,” Ohakim noted.
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