Consent and Communication

Here are a couple of ideas about starting these conversations:

Educate yourself on how Northeastern talks about consent. In preparation for a conversation about consent, it may be helpful for you to know more about how Northeastern defines consent and how we message to students about it. Check out our Learn:Consent page that covers a number of the frequently asked questions we get from students. Some of these include, “What is consent? How do I ask for consent? Will it be weird or ruin the moment to ask? How do I say no if I don’t want to be with the other person(s)? How alcohol can impact a person’s ability to give consent?”

Use the media as a starting point. The media often gives mixed messages about sex and consent.  It’s rare to see characters on a TV show discussing barrier methods or birth control, negotiating sexual boundaries, or asking for consent and as a result, students often aren’t sure how to have these conversations or even whether they need to have these conversations with their partner(s). As you see or hear things come up about sex, consent, or dating in movies or on TV, ask for your student’s thoughts and/or share your own.

Preventing Sexual Harassment and Misogyny

The Making Caring Common Project from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education gives the following 6 tips for parents on how to reduce and prevent misogyny and sexual harassment among teens and young adults. They suggest to:

  • Clearly define sexual harassment and degradation.
  • Step in if you hear a sexist or sexually degrading comment from your student or their friends.
  • Teach your student to be a critical consumer of the media.
  • Talk to your student about what they can do if they’ve been sexually harassed or degraded.  Our Learn: Sexual Harassment page includes some information about that as well.
  • Talk to them about being a proactive bystander- to step in if they see or hear something inappropriate. Check out our Learn: Preventing Sexual Violence page for more information about intervention strategies we teach as a part of Northeastern’s “UP2US” bystander intervention program.
  • Work to ensure they have many sources of recognition and self-worth.
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Preventing Sexual Assault

No family member wants to think about the possibility that their student could be a victim of sexual violence in any form. However, one of the best things you can do is create an environment where they can come to you if needed. Check out our Support Your Student: Sexual Violence page and educate yourself so that in the event your student comes to you for support because something happened to them or a friend, you are prepared.

You may also want to check out’s guide: “How to Talk to Your Kid about Sexual Assault.” The guide is written by college students/recent alumni and highlights ways to talk to your student about sexual expectations, consent and alcohol, and sexual assault.

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