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Far too many people continue to be profoundly harmed by sexual abuse, harassment, assault, and rape at school, at work, at home, in sports, in the entertainment industry, and in our communities – online and off.

Though anyone can become the target of sexual violence, prejudice and discrimination based on gender and sexuality lead to much higher rates of sexual violence directed toward women, girls, and LGBTQIA+ and non-binary people. Often, people wait many years to tell others about their experience of sexual harassment or violence – and many never share them at all, for countless reasons ranging from fear to shame to concerns about job security, social rejection – to simply the belief that they will not be believed. This can prevent people from getting help, seeking justice, and healing fully from trauma.

We have the power to change many of tomorrow’s stories of sexual violence into stories of safety. We can do this by speaking and acting in ways that change norms that excuse, overlook, or minimize sexual violence and the profound harm that it causes. To make this kind of change, people of all ages and walks of life need:

    • awareness of what safe and unsafe sexual behavior looks, sounds, and feels like;
    • understanding of the harm done when anyone has their sexual well being violated in any way for any reason;
    • skills for taking charge of the emotional and physical safety of themselves and others: and,
    • skills for expressing and withdrawing consent, setting and upholding boundaries, and respecting others’ boundaries

Our workshops and resources for adults give leaders in schools, workplaces, homes, and other groups strategies for communicating clearly that each person has the right to be treated with safety and respect and the responsibility to act safely and respectfully toward themselves and others. In addition, we teach safety leadership strategies for upholding this commitment consistently on a daily basis through words, actions, and policies.

Teaching and upholding boundaries prevents harm in all types of groups. No one is ever too old to learn how to set, protect, and respect boundaries – and children can start to learn healthy boundaries from birth in the same way that they learn manners, customs, and other behaviors from their families and communities.

Kidpower’s Consent Checklist for all ages is downloadable in multiple languages and states that “Touch and affection for play, fun, or affection should be:

  1. Safe
  2. OK with each person involved
  3. Allowed by those in charge (i.e. parents in a family, supervisors in a workplace, teachers in a class, owners of a store)
  4. Not a secret

Having skills for protecting and respecting healthy boundaries in daily activities starting in early childhood is essential to ensuring consent in sexual activities as adults. When kids can speak up about what kind of play and affection is and is not okay with them, even under emotional pressure to please someone, they are far better prepared to handle sexual pressure as they get older. When kids learn to manage their emotional triggers and stay in charge of what they say and do no matter how they feel inside, they become far less likely to cross the sexual boundaries of others.

Here are resources for adults to strengthen their own boundary setting and consent skills:

Fullpower Consent and Boundary Skills for Adults
Fullpower Boundaries Personal Practice
Protecting Sexual Safety: Skills to Ensure Consent, Set Boundaries
Triggers, Emotional Attacks, and Emotional Safety Techniques

The resources above will also help parents and caregivers teach boundary setting and consent skills to young people. These additional resources designed specifically for people caring for, teaching, and guiding youth:

Touch and Consent in Healthy Relationships
Kidpower Skills to Persist in Setting Personal Boundaries through the Five Levels of Intrusion

The Kidpower Safety Comics series provides entertaining cartoon-illustrated social stories, safety rules and skills, many of which directly relate to consent for younger children, youth, and teens/young adults.

Together, we can change cultures that tolerate sexual aggression into cultures that promote respect and safety for everyone.


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Published: May 27, 2021   |   Last Updated: May 27, 2021

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Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, and the Amazon Best Seller Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.