All topics

How to approach the topic of consent with teens

Published on June 27, 2024 at 18:56 / Updated on June 27, 2024 at 20:24

When it comes to consent, especially in adolescence, respecting limits on both sides is an important learning process that requires parental involvement. Although it's not always an obvious subject to broach with your child, it's essential and even critical to raise young people's awareness as early as possible.

What is consent?

Consent is the voluntary, reciprocal and informed agreement of both partners during an intimate moment or sexual relationship. Everyone involved must give enthusiastic consent, i.e. express their consent through clear, positive and free words, gestures and actions, before and during a sexual act. 

What are the main warning signs of a non-consensual sexual relationship?

If consent is not obtained in any way, the act is considered a case of sexual assault and violence.

Here are a few indications that a sexual relationship is non-consensual:

  • One partner says "yes" to one thing, but "no" to another
  • One of the partners is in a state of drunkenness or intoxication (e.g. drugs)
  • One of the partners is unconscious or asleep
  • One of the partners is the target of threats, pressure or intimidation
  • One of the partners has not reached the age of 16, or does not respect the maximum age gaps allowed by law
  • One of the partners is in a position of authority (e.g. a teacher, coach, boss, etc.), while the other has not reached the age of 18
  • One of the partners is uncertain about the situation, for example, by being nervous or pushing the other partner away

It's also important to remember that:

  • Saying "yes" to one thing does not mean agreeing to another
  • Changing the activity in question requires consent again
  • Obtaining consent by putting pressure on the other partner to change their mind is not true consent
  • Not saying "no" in the case of someone who cannot consent, either because they are too young, drunk, intoxicated or unconscious, does not amount to consent.

It should be noted that consent is not valid if a person is not old enough (too young) to consent, or if they are in a vulnerable position regarding their partner. It's also important to mention that consent can be revoked at any time.

As parents, how should we approach the subject of consent?

Fear and embarrassment can sometimes put the brakes on an open discussion. However, as parents, it's a good idea to get past these barriers and talk about the right behaviours to adopt when it comes to consent.

To do this, it's helpful to create a space in which your teenager feels safe, so that they can show goodwill at all times. If a parent is in a position to do so, they can express themselves on aspects that bother or worry them, while respecting their personal limits. On the other hand, if a parent feels unable to do so, it's important to direct the child to outside resources who can answer any questions, such as the school nurse, for example.

What else can be said about consent?

As children get older, the way they deal with intimacy changes. As long as good habits have been instilled, teenagers are able to express themselves and set their own limits. They know they can say "no" without fear of rejection.

Consent is everyone's business and should never be insisted upon or negotiated with a partner. 

Text written in collaboration with Vie de Parents.

The drugs and pharmaceutical services featured on the website are offered by pharmacists who own the affiliated pharmacies at Familiprix. The information contained on the site is for informational purposes only and does not in any way replace the advice and advice of your pharmacist or any other health professional. Always consult a health professional before taking or discontinuing medication or making any other decision. Familiprix inc. and the proprietary pharmacists affiliated with Familiprix do not engage in any way by making this information available on this website.