Advice on talking with children about sex and consent

Debby Herbenick, co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion in the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, offers parents and guardians some nuts-and-bolts tips in this New York Times article that discusses talking with children about sex and the important topic of giving and receiving consent.

teens sharing a songThink your kids are too young? (And don’t we all?) Start with the tickling, Herbenick says in the Times.

You know how little kids like to be tickled? If a kid says stop, even if they’re laughing, the best thing you can do as an adult is stop. What that teaches them when they’re 2 or 3 or 4 is that they have control over their own body.

Herbenick said kids need to learn at an early age to keep their hands to themselves, because they often grab and touch each other — sometimes in inappropriate places. Talking with children in preschool and kindergarten is a good time to start.

Talking about the importance of giving and receiving consent should begin in middle school or earlier, if the children go to parties, Herbenick said. It might be easy to think one’s child would not misbehave, drink alcohol or develop wrong ideas about sex, but children often are easily influenced by friends. How do we know what our children think if we avoid the subject?

I encourage parents to give this short article a read.

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