Does the tweens or teens in your life know what consent means? Do you?
In a world where 1.3 forcible rapes occurs each minute in the United States, 1 in 5 college-age women report having been sexually assaulted, and 13% of all students (men and women, graduate and undergraduate level)—are raped or assaulted using force, violence or incapacitation, it behooves us all to know.
We have a real problem on our hands.
It’s easy to write off the perpetrators as “evil” or “bad.”
It makes us feel better, because if all the rapists are “evil” or “bad,” then surely our sons and daughters—who are good, kind people—would never sexually assault someone.
But we’re lying to ourselves.
Being good and kind isn’t enough.
Because in many cases, it’s not because the offender is a “bad kid”—it’s because they have never been told what consent is, what it looks like, how to ask for it, how to give it, and what to do when they experience rejection.
Our young people don’t understand the lasting effects that a sexual assault has on a victim.
They don’t understand that consent cannot be freely given when their partner is intoxicated.
And parents, caregivers, and educators aren’t teaching them this.
And we need to be.
So let’s start with CONSENT—the gold standard.
It should be the cornerstone of ALL physical contact from the time our children are toddlers. But talking about consent, and whether preschool Hannah has to give Grandma a kiss is a different thing than talking to middle- or high-school Dustin about holding hands, kissing, and having sex.
We tend to get stuck.
So, I created a framework to help you out. OMEGA is the last letter in the Greek alphabet, and for our purposes, we are going to let the last letter be our first line of defense.
The gold standard for consent requires that it be:
Mutually desired between
Enthusiastic and informed partners and that it be
Given freely at an
Acceptable (legal) age by partners who are of
Sober body and sound mind
Want this in an easy to print, easy to read, downloadable format? Print it HERE.
So next time (tonight?) you sit down with your tween or teen, teach them OMEGAS.
Explain that you expect them to follow it.
Let them know you trust them to do just that.
Reiterate that doing the right thing in every moment matters.
Discuss. Teach. Lean in with curiosity to their thoughts. Answer their questions.
And rest easy for the night knowing you’ve been a Savvy, Heartful parent.
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