Parents/caregivers play a critical role in teaching their children about consent. Speaking openly and honestly with your children can help them develop healthy relationships with others as they grow up.

Parents / Caregivers

If you are the parent/caregiver of a secondary-school age student, you will be able to avail of a parents’ seminar if our Active* Consent Schools Workshop is programmed at your school. Learn more here »

Part of being able to speak with them is educating yourself about the experiences of young people today as well as basic definitions of consent, sexual violence and harassment.

We also give you access here to materials that we’ve developed for college staff, students and student leaders.  These materials will: 

  • Familiarise you with basic definitions of consent, sexual violence and harassment
  • Give you access to data on consent attitudes and rates of sexual violence and harassment for college-age students
  • Introduce you to basic language for receiving a disclosure of sexual violence

Click through the slider below to access our resources.

Jump below to our FAQs

Making the Big Talk many small talks – HSE resources for parents

Lay the foundation of good communication with your children by talking to them regularly and from a young age about relationships and sexuality. This will help your children as they navigate the ups and downs of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood.

Click here for HSE resources for parents

Balancing screen time for your children

Concerned about how much time your children spend online? Click here for tips from Internet Matters about how to support children and young people to adopt a healthy digital diet.

Parents / Caregivers FAQ's

  • At what age can I start talking to my children about consent?

    It is never too early to talk to your child about consent and it doesn’t have to be about sexual consent.  Consent is also about negotiation of physical boundaries, touch and comfort levels in a more general way, and it is important to begin building this awareness with your child as soon as possible so that they can feel empowered to communicate actively about what they feel comfortable with.

  • How do I start the conversation?

    It may feel daunting at first to start the conversation, but there are ways to introduce your child to the topic of consent from a young age:

    • Instead of telling them to hug/kiss a relative, let them decide what touch they’re comfortable with.
    • Teach them to ask other people before touching them e.g. “Can I hug you?”
    • Teach them that nobody has the right to touch them without their permission.
    • The Covid-19 pandemic has also given us a heightened awareness of consent and non-sexual physical touch (hugging, shaking hands, holding hands, etc). You can use this example to introduce the topic of consent and physical touch.

    For teenagers, it may feel easier to discuss this topic when you’re not face-to-face, such as when driving in a car.

    It can also be helpful to let these conversations arise in reaction to something, such as a news story, or a scene in a TV series or film. Reacting to something in the moment can help these discussions feel more organic, and less awkward.

  • How should I talk to my child/teenager about consent and intimate image-sharing?

    Intimate image-sharing refers to sharing of nudes and/or sexual images between consenting individuals over the age of 17 for the purposes of sexual stimulation.   When an intimate image is shared without an individual’s consent and/or with the intent to cause harm and/or with recklessness about the harm this sharing could cause to that individual, it is called intimate image abuse.  This is illegal under Irish law since 2020 under “Coco’s Law.”  Intimate image abuse is sometimes referred to as IBSA (image-based sexual abuse) or “revenge porn” (which should be avoided as it indirectly places blame back on the victim).

    As a parent of a minor child or young adult, it is important to:

    1. Know the law on consent and sharing of intimate images.  Intimate image-sharing without consent is illegal in Ireland but as a parent, you should also be aware that intimate image-sharing by someone under 17 EVEN with another minor is also illegal.
    2. Discuss the law with your child/teenager.  Share the basics of the law with your child/teenager: sharing intimate images without consent is illegal and the focus of the law is on the behaviour of the person sharing the images non-consensually. The law still applies if someone didn’t intend to cause harm but were only reckless in doing so (for example, forwarding an image that had been sent by someone else).  You can also address the age of consent in Ireland as part of this conversation and how it relates to the sharing of intimate images even between minors.
    3. Listen without judgement if your child/teenager shares an incident with you.  If your child/teenager tells you about someone else’s picture/text being shared in school or within their group of friends – be empathetic. It is important to avoid victim blaming and instead focus on the behavior of the person who non-consensually shared the images.  If it is your child/teenager who has experienced the incident, you may have a lot of complicated feelings as a parent/caregiver but the same guidance applies- be empathetic and focus on the behavior of the person who shared the images as you support your child/teenager in healing from the incident.

    Know how to report and where to direct a child/teenager for support if they experience this crime.  You can visit our “Get Help” page for information on how to report intimate image abuse as a mandated person and/or parent/caregiver and for direction to further support services.