Consent isn't all that complicated. And yet according to a study from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, there's still lots of confusion over what "counts" as sexual assault. Case in point: Harvey Weinstein.
For parents, conversations about consent don't have to begin when your kids reach the teen years and they're shown a cheesy sex-ed video featuring, as John Oliver describes, "30-year-old actors dressed like teenagers from the '90s." These chats should begin much, much earlier, around the time Grandpa starts telling them "Give me a kiss and I'll give you a lollipop," or when a fellow mum and dad on the playground says "It's time to go! Give your new friend a hug goodbye!" Just like with talking about sex itself, the discussion should be ongoing, age-appropriate and active (there's no need to wait until your kid has a specific question).
Here are some videos that can help get the conversation started. Some feature analogies, which can be really helpful in explaining big concepts to kids.
For Preschoolers and Elementary School Kids
This video by Blue Seat Studios breaks down consent in a super simple way: "This is your body. And you get to decide what you do with your body."
My four-year-old daughter loves this music video from Ruby's Studio called "I'm the Boss of My Body." The song is really catchy: "I may be young. I may be small. But it's my body, I'm in charge of it all." (It works a little too well. Once, I told her to turn off the TV, and she quickly replied, "I'm the boss of my body and my body is going to keep watching." Oof.)
For Tweens and Teens
The nonprofit organisation AMAZE produces honest, relatable and highly-watchable videos to help teens and tweens make sense of big, important topics that can sometimes feel awkward to talk about. Here's one that goes over the basic principles of consent, emphasising the fact that just because someone consents to engage in one kind of behaviour does not mean they have agreed to engage in another, and that someone can always change their mind.
The video "Tea and Consent" explains sexual consent using a simple metaphor: tea. Since the video has gone viral over the past couple years, the producers, Emmeline May and Blue Seat Studios, released a "clean" version without profanity that would perfect to show tweens and teens.