While it might seem daunting to start this conversation with your child, a resurfaced video, created by The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance (VSDV), has simplified the concept so that anyone can understand it.
The idea is based on three principles: ask, listen, and respect.
The one-minute clip demonstrates five instances where two teens ask each other for consent during an afternoon hangout. In response, a clear "yes" or "no" is given.
"Do you want to shoot some hoops?" one teen asks, for example.
"No, not really," the other responds.
Although the video was originally shared on YouTube in 2015, it recently began recirculating after Scary Mommy re-shared it on their site. While the clip, at first glance, might seem fairly simplistic, Scary Mommy writer, Wendy Wisner, noted its subtle importance.
"I bet it would be totally eye-opening for many to see that consent is an important part of life and comes into play all the time — not just in the instance of sexual intimacy," she wrote. "Furthermore, practicing consent in all aspects of your relationships with your peers is key, and is what sets you up for good communication when it comes to the potentially more intimate aspects of these relationships."
Research has found that teaching kids about consent early can help curb abuse, as well as teach children what is and isn't normal so that they know when to report inappropriate behaviour. And, according to The VSDV Alliance, teaching consent can also "reduce sexual coercion, harassment, and even assault."
But while consent can seem like a tricky thing to teach children, VSDV Alliance's video proves it can be as simple as asking a question and respecting another person's response.
"Don't worry about being awkward. Just say what you want, and ask first," the clip reminds viewers.
In an additional resource for parents, VSDV Alliance advises moms and dads to "explain that only 'yes' means 'yes.' Just because someone doesn't say 'no,' it does not mean that person is giving consent."
This isn't the first time an educational video about consent has gone viral. Previously, a cartoon clip that compared asking for consent for sex to drinking tea gained huge praise in 2015.
And in 2016, a cheeky animation of dancing genitals received acclaim for teaching that "consent is simple. If it's not a yes, it's no."
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