Are you one of those parents who leave the “sex talk” altogether, hoping that schools will do it instead? Well, although you needn’t feel shame about it since you are only one of the many, talking to your child about sex is unavoidable for you and your loved little one.
According to a survey, many adolescents reported having kissed and/or touched a partner under clothing by age 12, and intimate activities like holding hands, kissing and sexual touching is normal for the age group 11 to 13.
Jennifer Cassarly, a researcher looking into early adolescents’ beliefs about negotiating sexual consent for sexual activities, suggests that it’s difficult for adolescents to apply their understanding of sexual consent to situations of sexual coercion. Sexual activities thus occur as a result of pressure, trickery, threats or nonphysical force.
According to Cassarly’s study, boys and girls at age 11 are not clear enough about sexual behavior, for example, they tend to think the girl decides if sexual activity will happen, and endorse constructions of rape culture, specifically that of victim blaming. She therefore thinks it necessary to guide young adolescents about sexual consent and here is the way you parents or caregivers can do that.
If it’s not yes then it’s no
Tell your child that if they were to ask for their partner’s consents, the only way to be sure is receiving a clear “yes.” Remind them to check in with their partner using sentences like “Is this okay?”, “Can I…?”, “Hey wanna…”
Also, being able to read the facial expression and body language is essential. Tell the young people that if they see rejection in their partner’s non-verbal signs, they need to stop what they are doing.
Don’t fear rejection
Young people may be afraid to ask for consent because they fear rejection, instead opting to “just go for it.” Talking to them about rejection and reminding them the importance of asking for consents and possible consequences of “just go for it” can help.
What’s more, young people often report not wanting to say “no” to someone because they’re afraid of hurting their partners, leading to unwanted sexual activity. Parents and caregivers can suggest ways they can respond like “I like you, but I’m not ready”, “I don’t want to” or “no, not yet.”
Tackle the power of pressure
Remind the young people it’s never okay to make someone take part in a sexual activity through making the person feel guilty for not doing it, blackmailing or tricking them.
Like previously talked, it’s important to tell your child that girls are not solely responsible for sexual activity occurring. For example, some clothing can be “sexy” but that does not mean the person wearing the clothing is consenting to sexual activity or deserves to be disrespected.