Straight Talk About


By Maureen Pollard

Maureen Pollard, MSW, RSW is a registered social worker with a

private practice in Cobourg, Ontario. 


(noun) permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.  


(verb) give permission for something to happen.

(Oxford Dictionaries)


Giving consent means saying yes to participating in some activity. It can be as simple as accepting a drink of water or deciding to join a game of soccer. Often though, when we talk about consent we’re talking about a relationship with another person, and the kind of activities that two people participate in whether they are hanging out or hooking up.


Some people think consent is tricky, but it’s really simple:


Whether you are the person who is asking someone to do something, or the person being asked, it’s really important that both people agree. If someone says no, or says they are not sure they want to do something, then it shouldn’t happen. That means it might not happen right now or it might not happen at all, and even though that might disappoint you if you are the person asking, it’s really important to respect someone when they say “No.” or “Not now.”

It’s also important to know that someone can start out saying yes, and then change their mind. If this happens, you don’t have consent and you must stop whatever you’re doing that they don’t want to do. 

Having consent is important when you want to hold hands, put your arm around someone, kiss them, or touch them in any way using any part of your body. It’s also important when you’re thinking about giving someone drinks, food or other items. Respecting consent means that both people should be sayingYes! enthusiastically, or whatever it is someone wants to do shouldn’t happen.