How Do Parents Teach “No Means No”? An Exploration of How Sexual Consent Beliefs Are Socialized During Adolescence


Sexual consent, parent-child consent communication, adolescents


Research on sexual consent has increased in recent years, but we know almost nothing about how beliefs about consent are socialized during adolescence, which likely has important implications for behaviors related to obtaining sexual consent. The current study explored the frequency of parent–adolescent consent communication, as well as demographic, adolescent, and parent predictors of adolescents’ beliefs about the importance of consent and the frequency of parent–adolescent consent communication. Two national samples were used, one consisting of 2,044 adolescents, ages 13 to 18 (M age = 16.19, SD = 1.71; 50% female), and a second sample of 2,081 nonrelated individuals, ages 28 to 81, who were parents of teens ages 13–18 (M age = 15.25, SD = 1.56). Findings suggested that parents did not talk about sexual consent any more than they did about other sexual topics (e.g., reproduction). We also found that maternal warmth was positively associated with adolescents’ importance of consent beliefs and that adolescents’ uninhibited temperament and parents’ self-efficacy and sexual beliefs were associated with parent–adolescent consent communication. The discussion focuses on the need to educate parents so they feel more confident talking to adolescents about the importance of giving and receiving sexual consent.

Original Publication Citation

Padilla-Walker, L. M., *McLean, R., Ogles, B., & *Pollard, B. (2020). How do parents teach “No Means No”? An exploration of how sexual consent beliefs are socialized during adolescence. Journal of Sex Research, 57, 1122-1133.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Sex Research




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor