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Sexual violence is disturbingly common, especially for young people. Accordingly, it is important to explore children’s understandings of consent to determine how to properly inform young people and respond meaningfully to their trauma. Existing literature on this topic reveals a tension between young people’s ability to comprehend consent and communicate permission through spatial practices, and adults’ failure to teach and practice this agreement due to dominant romantic, socialization, and developmental conceptions of childhood, and concern with risk. Children display a capacity to communicate consent through their negotiation of place. In the home, most parents ignore children’s expressed limits. Conversely, teachers discipline themselves according to dominant notions of risk, avoiding touch altogether despite students’ understandings of consent. In both the home and school, adults present harmful notions of sex and consent. Children characterize such teachings as problematic, reinforcing the disparity between young people’s and adults’ views. Moving forward, consent education policy should be informed by children’s knowledge and preferences.

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