Young children can learn about personal safety. They can learn about boundaries. They can learn this long before they are developmentally able to understand nuances about sex and sexual violence. When I try to explain to someone about setting physical boundaries, to adults, there is all manner of adult overthinking. For small children, physical boundaries are concrete, not nuanced at all.
Here’s a video about consent for the little ones near and dear to you: (link)
Teenagers can learn about sex and sexual violence. Generally, boys are socialized differently around these topics than girls are. The result has been, well, not stellar. The Centers for Disease Control have a list of topics for sex education for high school students. Notice there is nothing there about sexual violence, or its prevention.
- How to create and sustain healthy and respectful relationships
- Influences of family, peers, media, technology and other factors on sexual risk behavior
- Benefits of being sexually abstinent
- Efficacy of condoms
- Importance of using condoms consistently and correctly Importance of using a condom at the same time as another form of contraception to prevent both STDs and pregnancy How to obtain condoms How to correctly use a condom
- Communication and negotiation skills
- Goal-setting and decision-making skills
- How HIV and other STDs are transmitted Health consequences of HIV, other STDs and pregnancy Influencing and supporting others to avoid or reduce sexual risk behaviors
- Importance of limiting the number of sexual partners
- How to access valid and reliable information, products and services related to HIV, STDs, and pregnancy
- Preventive care that is necessary to maintain reproductive and sexual health (source)
Teenagers are at risk for HIV, STDs, and teen pregnancy. This is increased by having sex, having multiple partners, and not using condoms. This is also increased by using illicit drugs (particularly injected drugs). (source)
The CDC lumps “experiences of violence and poor mental health” in the same category; they are mentioned because they compound risks for STDs, including HIV.
Bullying, rape, and depression stats for 2017:
- Nearly 1 in 5 students were bullied at school.
- More than 1 in 10 female students and 1 in 28 male students report having been physically forced to have sex.
- The proportion of students who persistently felt sad or hopeless increased from 29 percent in 2007 to 32 percent in 2017. (source)
So, where do teenagers – mostly girls – go to learn how to not be the one-in-ten who is raped before they get out of high school? Where do boys learn to not be one of the one-in-twenty-eight who is raped? And to the extent that teenagers rape teenagers, where do teenagers learn that rape is wrong?
Teenagers learn about these things from one another, and from the internet. Where are your children learning? Here’s a video you can share with teenagers near and dear to you: (link)