Sexual assault, Sexual harassment, Non-consensual sex, No means No, Alcohol does not equal Consent.
These are some of the phrases one hears endlessly on college campuses these days. For some time now this vocabulary has been taught at the high school--and even middle school level and is being reinforced to students. But suddenly the language of consent has moved onto the front page of national papers as we head into the last three weeks of the 2016 Presidential campaign. Let's take advantage of the situation.
Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine providers of health care know that in addition to treating sore throats and STD's counselling about all matters in life is part of the job description. Providers (who may be as young as 23) as well as patients, parents, teachers and even grandparents can benefit from the mighty resource that is the Internet. In these confusing and dangerous times there has been a flurry of activity on my professional list-serves. Here is a curated list from Scarleteen.com that gives folks multiple avenues, resources and approaches to the questions surrounding consent:
What is sexual consent? An active process of willingly and freely choosing to participate in sex of any kind with someone else, and a shared responsibility for everyone engaging in, or who wants to engage in, any kind of sexual interaction with someone. When there is a question or invitation about sex of any kind, when consent is mutually given or affirmed, the answer on everyone's part is an enthusiastic yes.
For a discussion about Sexual consent and the "rules of the road"
Pediatricians Role in Sexuality Education [good read for residents]
It's on Us Campaign: President Obama's initiative on consent and sexual assault
Laci Green, YouTube Phenom; Wanna Have Sex? (Consent 101)
Consent is like tea, from the UK, gone viral
Washington Coalition for Sexual Assault Programs [Talking to Children about Boundaries/Assault Prevention for Parents]--adolescence should not be the first time youth are exposed to these concepts.
If this all seems a bit overwhelming start with the "Consent is like Tea"video from the UK. This level of humor and analogy would even be appropriate for scout troops and middle schoolers. The conversation about consent needs to start early. "Tea" offers a simple analogy that can get the conversation going.
Stoplight illustration via Google images