Parents are becoming increasingly aware of the need to talk to their children about consent.
There is no “too young” to start the conversation. The sooner the better when it comes to understanding how to respect your body and that of other people.
We are researchers of children’s literature dealing with issues related to sex and gender. Books can provide a safe and engaging way to discuss the sensitive but important issue of consent.
books for younger children
For elementary school-age children, books typically don’t talk about sexual consent, but rather cover topics such as boundaries, safe touch, and healthy relationships.
Let’s Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect by elementary school teacher and mother Jayneen Sanders is a place to start.
This book teaches verbal and non-verbal ways children can show that it’s okay for another person to cross their “body line” — an invisible line drawn around the child’s body. It also reminds adult readers that when a child says they don’t want to be touched, it’s important to respect that. As the book says in its opening line, “Your body is yours and you are the boss of it.”
Rissy No Kissies, by children’s author Katey Howes, is about a lovebird named Rissy. She says “no” to kissing because it makes them uncomfortable, but that makes other people think she’s being rude. Rissy learns that everything is fine with her. As her mother tells her, “Your body and heart are yours, and you choose how you share.”
Both books show the importance of children speaking to trusted adults. They provide pointers for children, parents, and educators about body autonomy, approval, and different ways to show affection. Just reading and talking about consent with children shows them that their parents are part of their “safety network” (adults they can trust).
Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries and Being in Charge of You, by former high school teacher Rachel Brian, uses lighter language while staying on the same subject. It begins with the message: “Agreed, it’s like being the ruler of your own country. Population: You. “I have word of mouth that I won’t be cuddling today.”
books for older children
For older elementary school children, there are also books that deal more comprehensively with consent and sexual consent.
These books introduce the concepts of agency, saying yes and no, and what consent is before introducing sex, puberty, and crushes.
They talk about how understanding consent is part of growing up.
Two books to consider here are Welcome to Consent by presenter and mom Yumi Stynes and former Dolly doctor Melissa Kang and Can We Talk About Consent by sex and relationships educator Justin Hancock and the Illustrator Fuchsia Macaree.
The latter chapter on sex begins by telling the reader, “It’s okay if you’re not ready to learn about sex yet. Either skip or put the book away for a while.”
Both books use hand-drawn illustrations to represent different bodies and experiences.
It is important that they clearly define consent and use the correct language to describe body parts and sexual acts. Unlike the Morrison government’s infamously confusing “milkshake” video in 2021, there are no embarrassing metaphors or unhelpful euphemisms to talk about sex.
What to look out for
Not all books cover consent well. Some portray approval as something boys must get from girls, reinforcing gender stereotypes. Others assume all readers are straight, white, and able-bodied. Look for books with different perspectives.
Welcome to Consent uses “own voices” quotes from many different people, meaning that consent is approached from different angles. For example, 15-year-old Tans writes, “I have ADHD and autism and anxiety. These things can affect my ability to interpret body language. I need a few more pointers.”
Sometimes you can read these books with your child, sometimes they may want to read them alone. The most important thing is that you start an open discussion with them.
Talking to young people about consent can be daunting, but it is an important issue that we cannot ignore. Books about consent can teach children safety and respect and, when the time is right, also empower them to understand sex and consent.
Talking about sexual approval and expectations can improve relationships and well-being
Powered by The Conversation
This article was republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Citation: How do you teach consent to a primary school child? You can start with these books (2022 September 23) Retrieved September 24, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-primary-school-child-consent.html
This document is protected by copyright. Except for fair trade for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is for informational purposes only.