The Kinds of Conversations Parents Should Have with Their Children About Sexual Misconduct

In this article, Debra Herbenick, a sexual health educator at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, discusses the kinds of conversations that parents should have with their children about sexual misconduct.  This article discusses when and how parents should talk to their children about consent, inappropriate touching, and drinking.

Please read this excellent article from the New York Times:

Talking to Children About Consent

By NATALIE KITROEFF 

HAVING THAT TALK with your child — the one about sex, babies and putting some distance between those two things — can be daunting. Now, a string of high-profile sexual assaults on campuses has put the topic of consent on the table. Debra Herbenick, a sexual health educator at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, discusses the kinds of conversations parents should have with their children about sexual misconduct.

Q. When should parents bring up questions about unwanted or inappropriate touching?

I’ve worked for years in preschools and kindergartens and it is a normal thing to start teaching that then. Kids hit and grab each other. Little kids touch each others’ genitals. They need to learn to keep their hands to themselves. They’re not the only offenders, though. 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.

Q. When does it make sense to discuss consent?

The conversations should have started by middle school, and earlier if they’re going to parties. It’s not only what they’re engaging in but also what their friends are doing. Even if they just saw something on the Internet; there is some porn that may not be rape, but certainly looks like it. Kids that age can think that level of violence is O.K., or even amusing. It’s important for parents to encourage their kids to ask themselves: “Why are you laughing? If you saw this in real life would that actually be O.K.? Would you know when to stop it? Do you know what can get you in trouble?”

Q. What are key points to cover about getting consent?

You say, “When you’re making out or want to go further, you’ve got to make sure it’s O.K. You should ask if it’s O.K.; you can also look at how people’s faces are; you can pay attention to sounds. And just because somebody has said yes once before doesn’t mean it’s O.K. again.”

Q. How should parents raise the drinking issue?

It’s fair to acknowledge that, yes, couples have sex when they’re drinking. But when people don’t know each other, it’s far too easy to make serious mistakes. As a rule of thumb, a parent might tell their son or daughter not to have sex with someone they don’t know well if one or both of them is drunk. If you like each other, if you’re attracted to each other, awesome! Kiss if you want. Exchange numbers. Walk the person home safely and write down your number. And then leave. Do not, under any circumstances, try to get someone else drunk, especially if it’s just because you hope to hook up with them later. That is a path to sexual assault or rape. If you hear your guy friends talk about wanting to get someone drunk, call them on it. Tell them it’s not cool. Be the guy who watches out for others at a party.

This article was originally posted by www.nytimes.com on February 7th, 2014: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/09/education/edlife/talking-to-children-about-consent.html?_r=0