Sending your teen off to college is a huge milestone for both you and your teenager. However, it can also be a time of anxiety and fear for parents as they worry about their teen's safety on campus.
Sexual assault and violence may seem like far-fetched concepts, but the reality is that it is prevalent on most college campuses.
Key Talking Points to Guide Your Conversation
1. The Prevalence of Sexual Violence on College Campuses
Consider starting the conversation by sharing factual information on sexual assault and rape statistics, definitions, and warning signs. Additionally, while teens may have an idea of what sexual violence entails, they might not know how it can take many forms, including sexual harassment and stalking.
Take a look at our online resources, which cover various definitions and statistics to communicate to your teen:
2. Consensual vs. Non-Consensual Sex
As a parent, talking to your teen about sex can be a tough but necessary conversation to have. It's important to approach the subject with an educational and informative tone to ensure your teen fully understands the difference between consensual and non-consensual sex.
- Consensual sex is when both parties involved give clear and enthusiastic consent to engage in sexual activity.
- Non-consensual sex, on the other hand, is forced or coerced and can have serious and long-lasting consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator.
Make sure they understand that just because someone may give their physical cues that they are okay with sex, it does not automatically mean that they are consenting. Additionally, it is important to understand that consent may be revoked at any point before and during sexual activities.
With open communication and a willingness to answer your teen's questions, you can help create a safer and healthier environment for them to navigate their own sexual experiences.
3. What to Do in the Event of Sexual Violence
Another critical talking point is the importance of seeking help if they or a friend has been a victim of sexual violence. The first thing to emphasize is that they are not alone; help and support are available. Even if they do not feel comfortable coming to you right away, make sure they understand the resources available on campus, such as counseling services, health centers, and campus police.
Encourage your teen to seek support and validate their feelings if they feel unsure or scared following an assault or incident. Remind your teen that they have the right to say no and that consent must be freely given. They should never feel pressured or coerced into any sexual activity.
4. Establish a Safe Space and Open Line of Communication
Lastly, create an open line of communication between you and your teen. Make sure they know they can talk to you about anything, even if it feels uncomfortable or taboo.
Most importantly, let them know that you are always there to listen without judgment and support them in any way you can. Let them know you are there to support them, and your love for them will never change, no matter what they may experience on campus.
Providing Compassionate Victim Advocacy Since 1997
While it may seem like an uncomfortable conversation to have with your teen, discussing campus sexual violence with them before they go to college is important. The more informed your teen is, the better prepared they will be to recognize when inappropriate behavior takes place and how to respond to it.
Above all, remember to be supportive and reassure your teen that they can come to you at any time for help.
At Lanier Law Group, P.A., we understand the law and know how to pursue sexual abuse and assault cases. In fact, our firm has earned a reputation for handling more sexual abuse cases than any other injury law firm in North Carolina.