We Can Teach Consent Without Mentioning Sex – The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Clever marketing and unconventional health campaigns will better reach the youth of this state. (Artwork by Jose Garcia | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

In school, most children learn about respect and kindness. In adulthood, personal space and wishes are respected in the form of consent. Talking about consent generally includes saying “yes” to sexual activity, but consent also includes “no” – and respect when people say “no”.

And yet Studies found that many college-aged students, especially men, do not understand the basic concept of consent. Utah is clearly suffering from the effects of this lack of education. About one in two women in Utah – the national rate – will experience some form of sexual violence victimization, affecting many victims children. Approximately 80-90% of sexual assault victims are abused by someone they know, making it difficult to come forward or even acknowledge. So what’s the breakup here?

Children are not taught physical autonomy, the concept that your body is entirely your own. Violating that autonomy can be as simple as someone holding your hand without permission, or something as serious as rape. However, during this year’s legislature, the Utah legislature became declined House Bill 177, a measure that would add definitions of consent and sexual violence to sex education. Legislators argued that mentioning the idea of ​​consent would encourage sex, which the bill’s sponsors vehemently opposed.

Utah legislation should reconsider inclusion non-sexual courses about consent and physical autonomy in the school systems so that children can make decisions and set their own boundaries early in life. This would in no way promote sex. Instead, it would teach basic concepts of consent that can help children see earlier what is right and what is wrong.

Utah recently saw a 50% increase Sexual abuse images Cases where some children are forced or compelled to send photos of themselves to predators. Children are especially vulnerable to sexual predators because they often don’t know what abuse looks like and that abuse can come from people they trust.

In an interview with Emma Zevallos, assistant director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, she discussed the difficulties children face when they are hurt by someone they know. “We want to make sure we are protecting the children … and that they understand that this is their body and that no one has the right to touch or take advantage of them,” she said.

Child victims who take action against family members or important figureheads have no knowledge of physical autonomy and are therefore easily manipulable targets. By educating children about their ability to say “no” to undesirable actions, we can protect them from being easily manipulated by those in power such as family members, teachers, counselors, and even their peers.

Utah teaches kids that abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. However, comprehensive sex education (including topics such as consent, contraception, sexual violence resources, and protection from sexually transmitted diseases) Reduce teenage pregnancy and reduce the Transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.

It has not been shown that pure abstinence education lowers the rate of adolescents Sexual intercourse. And because Utah refuses to give consent, talking about sexual violence blames the victim for not stopping the attack. It silences the victims and prevents many from having the vocabulary to describe what happened to them.

Carol Spackman Moss, MP, spoke in an interview about her sponsorship of HB 177 and the difficulty of passing a law to protect children. “I think it goes back to our personal rights as individuals to have control over our image,” she said, emphasizing that consent is not inherently sexual. She was surprised at how controversial the bill was and wondered why Republicans were against a bill that would help victims of sexual violence.

I grew up in the south where our sex education is similar to Utah – just abstinence – with no discussion of sexual abuse or who to report. And a lot of people, including myself, are grappling with the effects of this lack of education. Whether it was sexual assault in a relationship or blurry lines when people started drinking, we had limited knowledge of what control we had over our bodies. As a survivor of sexual violence, I can say that my recovery and healing process would have been easier if I had been trained in school and had been assured of my own rights as a person.

These limits are difficult to set as a teenager, when the concept of physical autonomy was never introduced to you as a child. Teach children early about the importance of ask like “Is it okay if I hug you?” or “Make sure you ask your friend if she wants to hold hands” so that they not only understand that their body is theirs, but that everyone else has limits as well. Realizing the importance of consent helps educate everyone, not just victims, about the effects of sexual violence. It’s a crucial step in that prevention of sexual violence and changing the conversation to blame the perpetrator instead of the victim.

Consent is not a sexual concept. It’s just about respecting each other’s wishes. It says no to any act that a person does to your body or character. When children learn to consent in a non-sexual way, not only can they respond to situations in which they are at risk, but also later in life they are less likely to invade someone else’s confines.

Utah voters want more sex education, and those additions should include consent classes for children. Introducing these concepts to children is a step Utah must take to protect victims of sexual violence – and to prevent it from happening in the first place.

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