Young Adults

NFF Youth Blog: Consent

February 01, 2022

When I was little, my mother would take me to marches and protests about sexual assault. When I was younger, I never truly understood the saying of no means no, so I asked my mother to which she responded, “what does no mean?” I then responded with “No, like I don’t want to do that” she nodded.

I grew up with this strong advice. No can be a full sentence. You can just say no. You don’t need to have and give an explanation. And as someone who is 13 and still growing up, I liked having this advice that I can just say no but I have this realization that it is more complicated than that.

Consent is a very heavy topic. I think it is a heavy topic because consent education is focused mostly on the idea of saying no. Parents and teachers are good at teaching us about saying no, but the conversation about saying yes is lacking. This means we avoid talking about it altogether, leaving us to figure things out on our own. Also, it can be difficult  to teach kids about boundaries and bodies when there are so many outdated rules about dress codes and messages such as  “your body should not distract others” or “he makes fun of you because he likes you.” Letting these sayings slide can be misguiding as they give mixed messages to kids about consent, bodies and boundaries and make their future relationships toxic.

I think not a lot of parents, guardians, or teachers have discussions about consent and boundaries with their kids because of the perception that topics about consent are dark and heavy. Talking about consent and boundaries can be insightful and a way we can break down the barriers is by talking about it when people are in their young age. Not waiting until they’re older but starting to add to it as they grow up.

Consent is important in anything not just relationships. Consent means boundaries, and consent is the guide of having good relationships not just with people but with the world. I do believe that consent should be a big topic in schools all the way to university/college.  The conversation about consent needs to start sooner especially during the younger years of life when you’re learning about yourself and you know that these are my boundaries. It’s important to learn this when you’re young because when you start to grow up, you learn more about yourself and what you are comfortable with. Consent is not just about sex, it is about what you’re comfortable with and who you are comfortable with. That’s why we need to have a better understanding of it when we are younger and there is a need for better messaging from adults, who need this education too.   

Links for the consent resources: