8 reasons why you should teach your kids about consent
By Mical Imbukwa
In a small village in the Western part of Kenya, a teenage girl has missed out on the opportunity to join high school with her peers because she is caught up in the web of early pregnancy.
Her dreams of acquiring an education have been disrupted not by a stranger but by someone well-known to her and her family: their houseboy!
Upon interrogation, the teenager opened up that the houseboy had molested her severally and issued threats that, if she ever spoke up, she would risk losing her life.
The teenager probably went through molestation in silence because no adult had told her that no one, not even their father, was allowed to touch her inappropriately.
In a world where children are taken advantage of by people, they look up to for protection and those they think are their haven, parents ought to start teaching them about consent from an early age.
Consent is like the foundation of good relationships, understanding boundaries, and respecting each person’s right to make their own choices.
The 8 reasons
1. Prevention of abuse and exploitation
Educating your child about consent serves as an essential tool in safeguarding them against abuse, exploitation, and manipulation. When children are equipped with the knowledge to recognize and protect their boundaries, they are better equipped to identify and respond to inappropriate behavior from peers, adults, or authority figures.
2. Empowerment and agency
Teaching children about consent empowers them with a sense of agency over their own bodies and personal boundaries. Children develop a strong sense of self-esteem and autonomy by understanding that they have the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to physical contact or interactions.
3. Building healthy relationships
Understanding consent fosters the development of healthy, respectful relationships built on mutual trust, communication, and understanding. Children learn to respect each other’s feelings and talk openly about what’s okay and what’s not. This makes friendships and other relationships strong and healthy.
4. Promoting respect and empathy
When you talk to your child about consent, you instill in them values of respect, empathy, and consideration for others’ feelings and boundaries. Parents cultivate a culture of empathy and understanding that extends beyond personal relationships into broader societal contexts by teaching children to seek and respect consent in all interactions.
5. Preventing gender-based violence
Education about consent is instrumental in challenging and destroying harmful gender stereotypes and norms that perpetuate gender-based violence and discrimination. Parents play a crucial role in creating a more inclusive and just society by promoting equitable and respectful relationships.
6. Encouraging open communication
Conversations about consent encourage open and honest communication between parents and children. By fostering a safe and non-judgmental environment for discussing sensitive topics, parents create opportunities for children to seek guidance, ask questions, and share their concerns.
7. Laying the foundation for lifelong learning
Early exposure to consent education sets the stage for lifelong learning and growth. As children internalize the principles of consent, they develop the skills and awareness necessary to navigate complex social dynamics, establish healthy boundaries, and advocate for themselves and others throughout their lives.
8. Digital safety
In an increasingly digital world, consent extends beyond physical interactions into online and digital communication. Teaching children about consent in digital spaces empowers them to responsibly navigate social media, messaging platforms, and online interactions.
By giving kids the tools to understand consent, parents help create a fairer and kinder world for everyone. Don’t overthink it. It is important that you start talking to your child about consent today.