All about consent & healthy relationships
Healthy relationships aren’t just for couples! We need healthy relationships with our parents, trusted adults, friends and partners. Here are some universal characteristics for all healthy relationships:
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships
Consent means agreeing to engage in a specific activity with someone. Engaging in sexual behavior with someone who does not, or cannot, consent is sexual assault, or rape. Here are some key takeaways when it comes to understanding consent:
Talking about consent by age
Even when your children are young, you can start to discuss their bodies. Use correct terminology like “penis” and “vagina” when describing body parts, just like you’d say elbow or toes!
Teach them to ask a friend for a hug before giving one. Talk with your children about personal space, respecting when others do not want to be touched.
Handling rejection. Discuss that it’s okay to be told “no” and healthy ways to practice acceptance, empathy, and respect for boundaries.
Focus on the importance of not having secrets. Teach kids that if anyone asks them to keep a secret about touching their bodies or having them touch someone else’s body, they should tell a trusted adult right away and they will not be in trouble. Kids should have 2-3 trusted adults in their life that they can identify.
Include consent in conversations about sexual health. During these adolescent years, parents can broaden the discussion to concepts of sexuality and sex. Discussing changing bodies, crushes and sexual feelings, setting boundaries, respecting others’ boundaries, communication, rejection, and affirmative consent should all be part of the conversation.
Explain what role alcohol may play in sexual scenarios. Discuss how alcohol impairs someone’s ability to consent or know if someone is consenting, but that ultimately, actions under the influence of alcohol are not exempt from responsibility. Parents should also note the differences between impairment and incapacitation, and that someone who is incapacitated cannot consent.
Explain the age of consent. The Oklahoma Age of Consent is 16 years old. A “close in age” exemption allows minors over age 14 to consent to a partner younger than 18 (if they are within two years of age).
Relationships can be complicated and look different for everyone, but dating violence or partner abuse is never okay. Tell a trusted adult if you are experiencing dating violence or abuse (physical, verbal or sexual). Abuse can include:
Join the Conversation!
We’re always looking for people and organizations who want to make a difference for youth in Oklahoma County. Join us!