Consent & boundaries
All young people should know the importance of respecting limits and boundaries of themselves and others to build healthy relationships. However, the messages that very often pass, especially through social media, can “confuse” young people and make them unsure about how to set their own limits in everyday situations. It is therefore necessary to talk about it, at any age, not only to help recognize and prevent discrimination, violence and abuse, but also to try to have positive and pleasant experiences.
We devoted a chapter to the topic of understanding and expressing consent and the importance of establishing emotional and physical-sexual boundaries as a form of promoting emotional well-being and preventing gender-based violence.
Often young people recognize and know the definition of consent, but too often have a very limited idea of what consent is, or take it “for granted.” In contrast, a topic like consent should be explored in the context of learning in general, not limiting it exclusively to sexual activity.
That is why we focus not only on the “why” but also on the “how” when we talk about consent: how we feel, how our bodies react, what kind of thoughts we have, and how we communicate with and without words. Learning consent does not necessarily require abstract thinking. Through practice and a “learning by doing” approach, young people can understand, for example, the boundaries between private and public with respect to behavior or their own bodies. We can teach youth that setting boundaries is good for them and for the people around them. At the same time, we can guide adults and youth to recognize situations in which boundaries are violated and consent is broken, generating violent or abusive episodes.
Understanding self-care and the importance of one’s emotional and sexual well-being can help build healthy relationships among adolescents and have positive effects on their adult lives.