In the wake of the Stanford sexual assault case and other recent conversations in the media about what defines sexual assault, many parents are wondering at what age they should begin teaching their children about consent.
With one in four girls and one in six boys sexually assaulted before the age of 18, it is clear that parents shouldn’t wait to discuss issues of bodily autonomy and consent with their children, yet many find the conversation daunting. How can we use words that kids will understand, without scaring them and without introducing them to mature material?
Rachel Brian, mom to 7-year-old Lola, has come up with a great solution. As Hello Giggles reports, Brian was inspired to make a kid-friendly video about consent after her daughter dealt with unwanted physical attention at school. Another child repeatedly hugged and touched Lola against her wishes, and went so far as to kiss her when the teacher wasn’t looking. Lola was left feeling angry, helpless and embarrassed, just as most adults feel when they are touched without consent.
Eager to do something, Brian, an illustrator and former teacher, channeled her energy into creating this short, kid-appropriate video about what consent is, why it is important and how to practice it.
This informative, empowering video is a must-watch—and share—for kids and parents. Check it out here:
The video helps kids (and parents) understand that kids have the right to say “no” to any touching they don’t want, even if it is just a hug from Aunt Stella or a kiss from Grandpa. If we teach kids to ignore that uncomfortable feeling they get when they don’t want to be touched, we open them up to the dangerous idea that adults have the right to touch them even when it feels scary or bad. This also suggests to them that it’s OK to replicate this behavior in their own lives, such as by grabbing schoolmates and kissing them against their will, as Lola experienced.
The bottom line is that the earlier kids learn about consent, the better, and parents should maintain an ongoing conversation reinforcing its importance. As the video says, “This is your body. And you get to decide what you do with your body. No one else is entitled to tell you what to do with your body.”