This is one big topic!
How many of us as adults give weight to children’s ‘yes’ or ‘no’?
Adults have and continue to assume that they ‘know best’ and therefore children’s consent carries little or no weight.
It is a social occurrence, however, that has a darker side. If adults rely on children’s implied consent then children do not get the chance to realise that their ‘yes’ means ‘yes’ and their ‘no’ means ‘no’.
Nowhere is this more important that in relation to children’s bodily integrity.
Numerous books point to the social challenges that teenagers face around presentations of gendered identities. Within this murky world of finding out who you are there are lots of opportunities to make mistakes, where consent becomes blurred (both in the mind of those that speak, but also in the mind of those that hear).
At a time when we are reminded once again (in the guilty verdict of Harvey Weinstein) of men abusing their power we, as adults, should be challenged to give time and thought to the way we encourage our children to learn about consent. To learn that they have a voice and that they have a choice - ‘yes’ means ‘yes’ and ‘no’ means ‘no’. To learn that ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are words that carry weight and when spoken must be responded to.
Creating learning opportunities around consent for all children can only strengthen our capacity as a society to value ourselves and one another - both our minds and our bodies!
One of the EquippingKids Canada Team, Mackenzie Mountford, has made this her focus!
Please check out her instagram page for posts and pictures that will challenge, inform and inspire action!