Consent 101: The foundation of child safety--image of a chalkboard that says: Only yes is yes.

Consent 101: The foundation of child safety

Does your child know what consent is?

If you’ve not yet discussed consent with the kids you’re raising, make sure to schedule a time to chat about it before school starts. Because really, consent is the foundation of child safety.

When you explain consent to your kids, make sure they also understand body (or bodily) autonomy.

“Body  autonomy is the right for a person to govern what happens to their body without external influence or coercion.” (

Pro Tip: This video offers a great kid-friendly explanation of consent and bodily autonomy.

A child who knows they’re the boss of their body—no matter what another person says—is less likely to be sexually abused as a child or sexually assaulted as an adult. They’re also more likely to disclose if something inappropriate happens to them.

As adults, it’s important to teach kids they have the right to say what happens with their body.

Your child has the right. Not another adult, kid, or teen. Even if that person is a family member or friend. Or a teacher, pastor, coach, or neighbor.

To reinforce that your child is in charge of what happens with and to their body, give them a range of options for greeting others instead of saying they must hug or kiss a relative or family friend.

  • Wave
  • Shake hands
  • Fist bump
  • High five
  • Hug
  • Kiss

Think about it. Often the friends and family members your children come into contact with are strangers, or nearly so. If your child has never met someone in their life, or hasn’t seen them since they were very young, why would you insist they hug this person? Especially if your child shrinks back in obvious discomfort?

Note: If we regularly require a child to ignore their own instincts, we may condition them to accept inappropriate physical contact in the future.

Once your child understands the idea of bodily autonomy, move on to the subject of consent.

When you give someone consent to do something, you’re giving them permission.

Yes, you may borrow my bike. No, I don’t want you to drink from my water bottle. Yes, I’m okay with you posting my picture on social media.

As kids mature, consent can refer to agreeing to participate in certain physical activities.

Sitting beside someone on the school bus. Holding hands. Kissing.

This video—for older kids (who may be sexually active)—conveys with humor, a number of situations in which consent comes in to play, such as:

  • The importance of asking for consent
  • Consent = an enthusiastic “yes”
  • If someone says “no,” respect their “no”
  • It is 100% okay for a person to change their “yes” to a “no”
  • If someone is unconscious, it’s not okay to assume they consent
  • Last week’s “yes” does not apply today

FYI: The average age of consent in the US is 16 years old.

As a presenter in body safety assemblies, I make sure the kids know that if someone over 18 engages in any type of sexual activity with someone below the age of consent in their state, that individual is committing a crime even if the minor agreed to the sexual activity.

Like many child safety subjects, you should talk with your child about consent more than once.

How many times have you told your child to look both ways before they cross the street? Or to buckle their seat belt? Repetition of child safety information helps kids internalize these important principles.

Pro Tip: Model consent at home. As a parent, as a spouse or partner, ask for hugs, kisses, and to share a blanket on the sofa. The concept of consent will become even more real when kids see it in action in their own home.

What else can you do to keep your kids safe?

In the back of my children’s book, The Brave Knight, I go over how to make a list of safe adults since chances are, you’re not with your kids 24/7. Not only that, but your child may not feel 100% comfortable discussing an awkward situation with you.

The resources in the back of The Brave Knight also include directions for creating personal safety plans, also known as exit strategies. Brainstorming personal safety plans is a great way to help kids develop critical thinking skills. If _____ happens, then I will ____.

In my child safety work, I’m seeing a lot of other authors and experts recommending lists of safe adults and personal safety plans. For instance, in the child safety book, I Said No, my author friend, Kimberly King, tells the story of a slumber party gone bad. All ends well, though, because her son Zack—a preschooler at the time—put into action not one, but two, exit strategies. I Said No is an excellent resource that covers a number of child safety best practices. Kimberly actually suggested the pro tip up above about modeling consent at home.

Kimberly and I have recorded a few Instagram Lives together, and we attended the 2023 conference of the Sexual Abuse Prevention and Education Network. That’s where we came up with the idea for a child safety book bundle.

As long as our inventory lasts, you can:

Buy both child safety books—The Brave Knight and I Said No—for $20.00 + shipping and handling.

(This child safety book bundle will also include some sweet swag.)

To snag this deal: email me here.

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