Teens sitting together.

Twelve Talks to
Have With Teens

Sex & Consent

​Jefferson County teens report that while adults discuss the physical aspects of sex with them, adults aren’t providing needed guidance to teens about creating healthy relationships, sexual consent, use of alcohol as a “date rape” drug, sending nude photos and making sexual comments about others.

  • Jefferson County youth report that adults and teachers cover the physical aspects of sex, but often seem to feel uncomfortable talking about the emotional and relationship dynamics that are part of sexual interactions. The reality is that talking about sexual relationships and consent with a teen can be uncomfortable. Talk about it even if it's uncomfortable. Don't count on sex ed at school to cover all the information your teen needs to know or has questions about. 

 

  • Alcohol is a common "date rape" drug. Jefferson County youth report that sexual assaults in Jefferson County, most of which occur in people's homes or cars, nearly always involve alcohol-- just large amounts of alcohol, without other drugs added to a drink. The alcohol used is either provided by, or stolen from, an adult they know. All Jefferson County youth deserve to be taught that combining sex with alcohol or drugs is not acceptable. 

 

  • Youth need to hear from adults that harassment includes any kind of unwanted touching, making comments about other people's bodies, talking about others in a sexual way and social media posts that include anything sexual about another person.

 

  • Asking for, or sending, nude photos is an important topic to discuss with young people. Taking a naked "selfie" and sharing it with one friend may seem harmless; however, these photos are often shared with friends and friends of friends, or may be posted on social media. The teen in the photo has no control over who sees the photo or where it may end up. In addition to being illegal in Colorado, possessing or exchanging nude photos can haunt them later in life by resurfacing during a college or employment application process.

What kinds of sex-related stuff do people talk about at school?

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Jefferson County High School Age Youth

Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, 2019

How is offering a cup of tea similar to consenting to sex?? Watch this video to find out! (2:49)

Conversation starters

  • Avoid having the conversation stop before it starts by asking open ended questions that cannot be answered "yes," "no," or with a single word, such as the ones listed at the top of this page.

 

 

  • When a news story, meme, movie, TV program or music video raises issues about sex or consent, use it as an opportunity to start a discussion.

Ask yourself

  • ​Do you bring up this topic often enough? The "sex talk" is not just one talk. It's a series of talks that take place multiple times and cover many topics including boundaries, pressure to have sex, consent, birth control, protection from sexually transmitted diseases — and also answer any questions that come up.

    • Don't avoid talking about sex and consent just because  you feel strongly that your teen should not have sex. You may decide to preface your comments with, "I hope you don't have sex, but if you do..."

    • Include information about asking for, sending or passing along nude photographs. In addition to family boundaries about sexting, encourage your teen to understand what is and isn’t legal in Colorado.
       

  • Have you discussed consent with your teen? Talk specifically and directly about what consent is — explicit, verbal permission to initiate and continue sexual contact. Also talk about what is not consent, including:

    • Implied permission or previous permission

    • Silence

    • Pressuring someone or tricking them

    • If either party is intoxicated

 

  • Have you told them directly that combining sex — of any type — with alcohol or other drugs is not acceptable? They should not have sex with someone who has been drinking or taking drugs, and they need to stop others from hooking up with someone who is intoxicated. No one can give consent if they have taken, or may have taken, any type of alcohol or drugs.
     

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Resources & Help

Rules & Boundaries

  • Let your youth know what your family, team or organization rules are about touching another person’s private areas without permission, making comments about their body or sexuality, sending or requesting nude pictures and sexual activity when intoxicated.

 

  • Know where your teen is and who they are with when they are not at home.

 

Equity & Inclusion

  • Teens who experience relationship violence face unique barriers such as limited access to resources, attending the same school as the abuser, having limited access to transportation or less control over their schedules. A trusted adult may not be able to remove all of these barriers, but they can help the teen create a safety plan.

  • Teens who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or asexual are far more likely to face bullying, dissemination and inequities. In Jefferson County, among youth who been in a relationship in the previous year, youth who are gay or lesbian are 3 times more likely to have been physically hurt by someone they have dated.

  • Too many Jefferson County High School students reported having been raped according to the 2019 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, and the number is higher among girls and LGBT+ students:

    • 8.7% of all females and 3.3.% of males have been forced to have sex when they didn't want to.

    • 15% of bisexual students and 16% of gay & lesbian students have been forced to have sex when they didn't want to.

Taking Action in your Community

Reduction of risk factors, and improvements in protective factors, can happen on multiple levels-- within an individual, among friends and family, by adjusting systems in places like schools or businesses, and on the policy level for towns, counties or states.  When improvements happen on all levels, our teens are most likely to thrive. Here are some policy and systems you and/or your teens might be able to influence:

  • All schools are required to have Title IX Policies and Procedures policies in place to protect those who are discriminated against on the basis of sex, including those who have been sexually assaulted, abused or harassed, including by someone they attend school with.

    • Schools are required to have these rules publicly available. Ask your school about where they have their Title IX policies posted. Find out more: https://www.knowyourix.org/ .

    • Ask the school about how they support these policies and sexual and relationship violence is addressed (particularly when victims and perpetrators are in the same school).

 

  • Health education students receive (including information about comprehensive human sexuality, healthy relationships and consent) varies by school. 

    • Ask your school how they are implementing health education for all students. Ask if the school knows about the district’s Health Education Policy and related resources. Ask/promote your teen to take a high school health education elective.
      g non-academic data and information (e.g., health information, climate survey data, etc.) to guide school improvement efforts and plans.