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Consent discussions with kids

(43 Posts)
wheresthel1ght Sat 28-Oct-17 12:20:32

My dd is 4, so consent discussions focus around not having to kiss or hug people she doesn't want to, and that no one should touch her in intimate areas. This does backfire when I have to force her to let the dermatologist see her hands, body bum etc due to chronic eczema but by and large she is happy with these and exerts her own will as needed and people I have found have mostly respected her choices.

However, to my horror it occurred to me today that I have never discussed this with my dsd (13) or dss (14) and assumed that a recent sex Ed day at school it would be discussed. I broached it with her today and it wasn't mentioned. Her mum has never discussed it with her either it seems. That is obviously her mum's choice, but I did feel she is at an age where it ought to be discussed so we had a chat, discussed that it is never OK for anyone to force contact and whether they mean we'll or not if she is uncomfortable and says no and is ignored that is wrong and we would support her to take whatever action she felt necessary to defend herself. She is happy with the chat, asked some good questions and we also discussed that whilst she would never be at fault should she say no and someone forced it, there are things she can do to protect herself and not make herself vulnerable ie drinking to oblivion, drugs etc.

Dss is at a hobby today so we will chat later about his responsibilities for consent etc.

So my aibu is this - why the hell. Is this not part of the school curriculum on sex education? Surely in an age where past promescuity is allowed to be submitting court to damage the victim of rape and people think saying nothing is the same as consent because "they never said no" we should all be taking responsibility to educate our young people and that includes covering this in school?

ImSoUnoriginal Sat 28-Oct-17 13:07:40

Well you sound like an extremely sensible and reasonable person OP (and sounds like you have a good relationship with your step children). I agree with you. I've no idea if any schools do teach about it but they should. Particularly in this day and age and in light of everything that has come to light about various celebrities etc in the last 10 years. If everyone were taught at school now, it couldn't be excused so easily in years to come. People couldn't say they didn't know, weren't sure or it was a 'grey' area.

Mummyoflittledragon Sat 28-Oct-17 13:15:31

Dd is yr5 so not there yet at school. I had no idea this area wasn’t discussed. Good on you for talking to your stepkids.

karigan Sat 28-Oct-17 13:21:30

I'm a teacher and I made sure that as part of a 6 lesson package 2 were focussed around healthy relationships, respect and consent. However i wrote my own program due to being in an SEN school where i knew that due to the students in my class that I'd have to cover some real basics that the average 15 year old wouldn't need. (Otherwise I'd probably have done more of a focus on healthy relationships.) So I'm not certain what the average secondary textbook is likely to cover.
I would find it shocking if it hadn't been mentioned at all.

HickDead Sat 28-Oct-17 13:23:06

The NSPCC (I think) come in to my DC's school every couple of years to talk to the kids in an age appropriate way about this subject. I had already started educating my children about this and find that I just have to reinforce it every now and then and sometimes fill in some blanks if they have questions.

I really can't understand why you wouldn't want to encourage an open and approachable attitude towards this. It definitely needs to be part of the curriculum.

Tilapia Sat 28-Oct-17 13:23:15

This is discussed at my DC’s primary school. Not as part of sex ed but as part of PSHE - they call it protective behaviours. I think it’s quite a recent thing though, so maybe your step kids missed out by a couple of years?

piefacedClique Sat 28-Oct-17 13:23:24

Have you seen the consent video which is about making and drinking tea? I’ve used it in class and it’s very effective.

TammyswansonTwo Sat 28-Oct-17 13:24:20

It's a disgrace that it isn't part of the curriculum. IMO the most important elements of sex education are pregnancy, STIs and consent.

Mittens1969 Sat 28-Oct-17 14:11:06

You’re absolutely right to be concerned about it, OP, and it’s great that you brought it up with your DSD. I’m concerned, too, as a mum to 2 DDs, to hear that she wasn’t taught about consent earlier than this in school. Because I was under the impression that it was taught in primary school and my DD1 is 8 now and in year 4.

I’m an SA survivor, and as a young child it started very young, I didn’t understand that it was wrong and sex education in school could have really made a difference and enabled either me or my DSis to say something.

I have taught my DDs about their private parts being private, but I do think the school has an important role to play here, especially for vulnerable children.

I am therefore very surprised and saddened by what you’ve said. Curiously, my BIL and SIL homeschooled their DCs through primary school as they didn’t want them doing sex education at that age; I didn’t agree with them on this, of course, but I now wonder if that was a lot of fuss about nothing.

Optimouse Sat 28-Oct-17 14:20:00

Let them watch the tea video. Its age appropriate and explains it far better than I ever could...
m.youtube.com/watch?v=pZwvrxVavnQ

Pengggwn Sat 28-Oct-17 14:35:55

Dss is at a hobby today so we will chat later about his responsibilities for consent etc.

Please also speak to him about his rights. Boys are abused too and all too often don't say anything because of perceptions of "shame" and a deficit in masculinity. Please don't just talk to your DSS about his responsibilities.

wheresthel1ght Sat 28-Oct-17 14:50:38

@penggwyn I will!

Thanks for the video, I will watch it first and then show them.

I was shocked it wasn't discussed at their primary tbh but it was a church school so that may account for it.

Sorry have also realised I said dsd was 13, fat fingers sorry. She is 12.

I am very grateful that we have a great relationship and can discuss this sort of thing, their mum seems to avoid it completely and I have had to do the period discussion and make sure dsd has things here, with her mum and in her school bag. I remember being mortified after starting at school and having nothing available!

I am a rape survivor so was also able to remind her that it counts in a relationship as well and vulnerable doesn't have to mean drink or drugs etc.

Glad to see some schools are sensible and teaching it though. I may contact theirs and suggest it is included

Darkblueskies Sat 28-Oct-17 14:53:29

'Curriculum' means what the teachers have written to be on their own scheme of work. I teach sex ed so I teach consent, but there is no rule that ensures that all teaching is the same across the rest of the country. So yes, OP, I would contact school and suggest it.

TammyswansonTwo Sat 28-Oct-17 14:53:58

Something I wish I had known about when I was a kid and experienced abuse: secrets. My abuser was my father and I thought nothing of him telling me to keep secrets - you're always supposed to do what adults / parents say, looking back there was a lot of secret keeping even before the abuse. I will need to find a way to teach my boys that being asked to keep secrets from me by an adult is never okay. Of course it's hard to differentiate then between secret birthday presents and something sinister but my husband and I have already discussed that we will never ask them to keep secrets from the other parent. It sends a terrible message.

wheresthel1ght Sat 28-Oct-17 14:56:33

tammy we teach about surprises rather than secrets when it comes to birthdays for that exact reason. We don't keep secrets.

It's a blooming minefield

Mittens1969 Sat 28-Oct-17 14:59:48

It was my father as well, TammyswansonTwo, and I was actually told that it was rude for a child to say ‘I don’t want to’ to an adult. And same with secrets, we were told not to upset our mum by telling her.

Hope you’re doing ok now. It’s such a hard thing to come to terms with, isn’t it? flowers

TammyswansonTwo Sat 28-Oct-17 15:05:00

That's a good way of doing it.

It's incredibly hard to cope with, and I've really struggled since I've had the kids because i am even more baffled by how anyone could want to harm their child. It doesn't compute to me. I've been no contact with him for over 20 years now, and that will never change although frankly he may be dead by now, I have no idea.

corythatwas Sat 28-Oct-17 16:01:08

To be fair, you cannot rely entirely on the memory of a 13yo to be sure that the subject has not been taught. Sometimes children don't listen, sometimes they forget, sometimes they pretend they haven't heard something for fear of being cross-examined and answering the wrong thing, sometimes they may not realise that what you are asking about is the same thing as they were taught about just with slightly different wording, sometimes they just say no to shut up the conversation. All good reasons for having the conversation with your sdss, but not necessarily good reasons for blaming the school.

I have had students claim they have never been told something when I actually sat in on the lecture in which the topic was extensively discussed and saw them there. More than once. I don't think they were lying, but I do suspect they may not have been paying attention.

corythatwas Sat 28-Oct-17 16:09:44

The "we don't keep secrets but only surprises" is a great approach for a 4yo, but imho needs a lot more differentiation and sensitivity for a 14yo.

There may well be situations where a teen feels they cannot talk to you about something sensitive, either because it is too private or because it might upset you. Of course you hope they would always come to you first. Of course you try to demonstrate in your daily life that you are so unshakeable that they can tell you anything. But if they can't, then it's still better they shouldn't be held back from seeking help elsewhere by the fear that this was somehow disobeying a family rule or letting you down.

Have dealt with this situation a couple of times, mostly regarding MH issues and issues concerning friends. And though a small part of me felt "oh, why couldn't he come to me?", the bigger part of me felt "I am so glad you found a safe place to access help- and the rest of it doesn't matter". Increasingly as they grow up, your job becomes not only to keep them safe, but to help them to keep themselves safe.

wheresthel1ght Sat 28-Oct-17 16:22:32

Ladies I am so sorry you had to go through that. Thank you for sharing and reminding me about "secrets". I have taught my dd that we have birthday surprises but not yet broached why secrets are bad so I will make sure we are including this as she grows up.

I must admit I dread this stuff where my step kids are concerned because their mum ought to be the one doing this stuff but she never does. Never sure if I should just leave it or educate them.

wheresthel1ght Sat 28-Oct-17 16:29:56

Cory - I doubt it has been taught to be honest, dsd is very open with me and discussed in great detail some of the topics discussed. It seems they focused more on bullying as there has been a lot going in in her year group with just an hour session on condoms and sex Ed. She said the teacher seemed quite embarrassed. It may well gave been covered with dss year but I will find that out later.

Re secrets etc, I didn't insist dsd told me, I told her that if someone puts her in a position she feels uncomfortable with and won't stop when she asks then she should tell someone, be that me, mum, dad, step dad, teacher. Aunty, whoever makes her comfortable and she will never be in trouble for not telling us as long as she tells someone who can help her. Same as she won't be in trouble if she needs to get physical if she is still being forced after saying no and telling a person that she is uncomfortable and wants them to stop.

corythatwas Sat 28-Oct-17 16:36:25

Sounds like you've got the right attitude, OP. Definitely agree with telling her that. And good that you covered getting physical, it is a worry that so many girls are still brought up to be nice all the time.

Just a bit confused between the blending of "if someone makes her feel uncomfortable" and the generic "we don't keep secrets".

One thing I have come to realise as mine have gone through their teen years is that there are so many different potential situations that it is often better to talk openly about specific situations in a more adult-to-adult way rather than making generic rules. Also often good to make them work through a scenario with you and make them come to the conclusion about what would be a good thing to do. I found that mine were in many ways more aware and worldly-wise than I was at that age, so that discussions needed to be phrased in slightly different ways.

lalalalyra Sat 28-Oct-17 16:45:16

I think you also have to be very careful with "we keep surprises, but not secrets". In our house surprises have to be shared with me or DH o for the littlies one of the bigger children. No-one is allowed to tell them to keep a surprise from everyone. 4yos, even 8yos to an extent, don't have the ability to realise what is a good surprise anymore than they do a good/bad secret.

But I have a funny/strange/harsh view on that because one time my father's "surprise" for my mother was the perfect handprint on my back from where he belted me.

Consent should certainly be taught in schools. It is in the primary and high school mine go too. My DD's (14) recently had an animated discussion with DS (18) and BIL because the topic of drunk consent had come up in their PSE/PHSE class.

TammyswansonTwo Sat 28-Oct-17 16:51:54

Oh yes, I was talking about speaking to my boys as they get older (they're only 1) and for now I would much rather have them ruin birthday surprises than keep an awful secret. Obviously that needs to become more nuanced as they age.

I read a great article a while ago about a family who have a texting system. They've taught the kids about peer pressure, consent etc and have told them that if at any time they are concerned or uncomfortable with what's happening, they simply have to text their parent an X and the parent will come and get them, and the rule is that they don't have to tell the parent anything about what was happening if they don't want to. I would much rather my kids could ask me for help than avoid it because I'd ask too many questions. Sadly I don't think there's any foolproof way to protect them, but stranger danger etc is just so far wide of the mark really.

Smarshian Sat 28-Oct-17 16:54:26

I must admit I dread this stuff where my step kids are concerned because their mum ought to be the one doing this stuff but she never does. Never sure if I should just leave it or educate them.

I totally agree that they should have conversations about this but I don't see why you feel it is their mothers job and not their fathers?

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