Resources for Parents

Resources for Parents and Families

How to Talk to Your Student about Healthy Relationships and Consent on Campus

College is an exciting environment full of new experiences and new relationships that will significantly shape the lives of students during these early years of becoming adults. Away from the familiarity of home and family, we at Wake Forest University strive to create a safe and supportive environment for students as they forge ahead on these new paths, yet we understand that parents and caregivers also continue to hold an important and invaluable role in helping your students navigate life at college.

As you prepare your student for college life, it’s important to have conversations with them about relationships and consent.

Promoting Healthy Relationships

New relationships are essential to the college experience, and students will find many opportunities for making friends and dating. As they prepare to enter this new social world, now is a good time to talk with your student about how to develop healthy relationships with their peers.

The five keys to a healthy relationship are Respect, Learn, Empower, Consent, and Communicate, and helping your student understand how to cultivate these in all their relationships will give them the tools they need to create a positive campus culture.

Defining Consent

Consent is an essential element for healthy relationships and how to respect their personal boundaries and the boundaries of others. Consent is important in many aspects of our daily lives, not just in sexual relationships, and it is a vital part of clear and honest communication.

Understanding consent helps students understand their own boundaries and communicate those boundaries clearly with others, as well as respecting others’ boundaries. When talking with your student about consent, use these points to define was consent is and isn’t:

It’s also important to talk to your student about making healthy decisions around alcohol and other drugs while at college, and it’s crucial to emphasize that sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault, no matter what they are wearing, if they’ve been drinking, if they are dating the other person, etc.. The Wake Forest University policy definition of consent can be found in the Title IX and Sexual Misconduct policy.

Talking to Your Student

Going away to college is exciting, but it can also bring some anxiety, both for you and your student. You want them to have amazing new experiences, but you also want them to be safe and make healthy choices. Your student is transitioning into young adulthood, gaining more independence, but maybe feeling unsure about leaving the familiarity of home.

These conversations about relationships and consent may feel awkward in the beginning, but ultimately they can give both you and your student new confidence in making the transition to college. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Most importantly, keep the conversation going! Check in with your student, and let them know you are always there for them to talk about their concerns and safety.

How to Support Students Who Disclose Sexual Assault

Learning that a loved one has experienced sexual assault can be overwhelming; you may feel anger, anxiety, confusion, disbelief, guilt, and sadness.

If your student discloses an assault to you, it’s important to support them and acknowledge the trust they’ve put in you by disclosing about an assault, which takes a lot of courage. Survivors often feel afraid, ashamed, or dirty, and may struggle to understand what happened to them and why, so it’s vital that they receive a compassionate and caring response. Here are some ways to support your student:

Campus Resources

Confidential Campus Resources

The Safe Office provides confidential support and assistance related to sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, and all forms of interpersonal violence.

The Safe Office also serves as a liaison to resources, provides information about reporting options, offers educational programming, and provides confidential consultations for concerned students, parents, faculty, and staff. 

24/7 helpline 336.758.5285

Non-confidential Campus Resources

(Intercultural Center, LGBTQ+ Center, Women’s Center)

Community and National Resources

Prevention Resources on Campus

Content adapted from UT Knoxville, RAINN, It’s On US, and NSVRC