The power of consent

The power of consent

/ 04:20 AM February 26, 2024

The Commission on Population and Development (CPD) recently called attention to a 35.13 percent surge in total live births among girls under 15 years old. According to CPD, records of adolescent pregnancy increased from 2,320 in 2021 to 3,135 in 2022. This trend is indeed alarming. Early pregnancy often perpetuates a cycle of poverty. Many teenage mothers drop out of school due to the demands of pregnancy and childcare, which limits their future employment opportunities and potential for economic independence.

The most commonly proposed solution has been to enhance sex education across the nation, grounded in the belief that comprehensive lessons on the risks of sex as well as preventive methods will automatically foster healthier sexual attitudes among the youth. However, this approach might only scratch the surface of a deeper issue. Research indicates that majority of teenage sexual encounters largely happen, not from ignorance of their potential negative consequences, but because of the inability to say no to pressure—either from what society or another person expects of them. This suggests that a more comprehensive approach is needed to help the youth navigate the challenges related to early relationships.

This insight into these dynamics underscores the need to integrate values-based consent education both at home and in educational settings. Teaching consent aims to guide young people not just to respect other people’s feelings, but also to help them understand that their bodies and those of others do not exist to be used and objectified. Effective and age-appropriate consent education equips young people with the ability to say no to unwanted sexual advances or to delay sexual activity, which can contribute to lowering rates of teenage pregnancy.


Some parents worry that any discussion about sex and relationships may inadvertently heighten curiosity about sexual matters among young people. It is important to clarify that a values-based discussion around consent and respecting another person’s dignity is one way to combat how our current culture has largely trivialized sex and sexual violence. Part of teaching consent is emphasizing that using another person for one’s pleasure or advantage is incompatible with genuine care and respect. Showing you care for someone is thoughtfully considering the potential impact of your actions on them, and opting not to proceed if the result could be harmful. Instilling values of empathy and compassion not only equips young individuals to form healthier relationships in the future but also reinforces the notion that sexual violence and harassment are unequivocally unacceptable.


Starting discussions about consent at the adolescent stage may be too late for effective education on the topic. In the same way, teachers scaffold math and science concepts, the idea of giving and respecting consent must be taught and honed early. For instance, teaching children that they have the right to say no to unwanted physical contact, such as hugs from relatives, reinforces the concept of body ownership and respect for personal space. This also includes teaching children the correct scientific names for their body parts, as endorsed by childhood abuse prevention programs. Research has shown that children who are encouraged to use euphemisms or “cutesy” names for their private parts may be less likely to report sexual abuse, as they may not have the language to accurately describe their experiences or may feel shame about their bodies.

One helpful resource is “I Love My Body,” a children’s book authored by Filipino artist Nikki Luna and illustrated by Julienne Dadivas. First published in 2018, and then later translated into Filipino (“Mahal Ko ang Aking Katawan”), the book was originally distributed for free in underprivileged communities. The material is also now easily accessible online through a video narrated and acted out by actress Angel Aquino. Their goal is to educate more children, teachers, and guardians on the rights and responsibilities related to defending personal dignity and body autonomy, especially against the backdrop of rising child abuse and child pornography facilitated by increased internet access.

It is important to note that the relevance of teaching consent goes beyond the context of sexual encounters. Consent is a prerequisite skill for establishing healthy boundaries, which is crucial in maintaining all forms of relationships. It enables individuals to understand their own comfort levels, values, and limits, and to communicate these effectively to others. This skill is essential not only for personal well-being but also for creating safe and supportive environments for everyone involved. In professional settings, clear boundaries contribute to a respectful and productive workplace, where team members feel safe and valued.

A values-based approach to teaching and discussing consent could help young people to better recognize instances where their boundaries are not respected and to address or exit these situations despite peer and societal pressures. This fosters confidence and resilience, equipping them to navigate diverse relationships with assurance and strength both now and in the future.

[email protected]

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

TAGS: opinion, Population, population control, teen pregnancy

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.