No such thing as safe choking

A sexual script, much like other scripts that our brain uses, is a rule of thumb that assists us to make faster decisions about behaviour and action. It can contain information about the order of events, the roles we play, who's pleasure matters, how we voice our boundaries, and what acts are included.

Humans start forming sexual scripts from birth and they are shaped by all the messages we receive from the world around them about bodies, agency, relationships, consent, and pleasure (including the messages we get from what's not talked about). There is increasing evidence of the role that pornography plays in shaping sexual scripts with new research showing high rates of behaviours such as choking and forceful or coercive acts now commonplace.

Sexuality education should discuss diverse sexual behaviours and the unique risks that some carry, always with an emphasise on consent and communication.

However, there is no such thing as safe choking or strangulation. It is one of the few activities that will ALWAYS result in death if done for long enough and just how long is long enough is unmeasurable because it relies on so many other factors. There are no precautions an individual can take that would make this activity 100% safe and if it goes wrong the consequences are much more than a bruise or cut (try brain damage, permanent disability, and death).

Strangulation also falls into another serious category - domestic homicide. In fact, it's presence in an abusive relationship is one of the most reliable predictors of murder that we have.

Adolescence can be a difficult time with so many new feelings and experiences. For young people who are consuming pornography and confusing activities that are potentially lethal with a sexual and romantic script there can be additional difficulties.

Talking about sexuality can feel hard. It's embarrassing and uncomfortable but young people deserve accurate information from informed and supportive adults - not from pornography. We want them to write sexual scripts that celebrate consent and pleasure and part of that is talking about the reality of sexual activity.

It doesnt have to be one big awkward conversation that ticks off the 700 things parents need to talk about these days. Every day there are teachable moments that can guide our conversations. Parents/caregivers are the filter, we need to take in often complex and confusing information then swirl it around with our life experience and values, then feed it back to children in age appropriate ways.

To learn more about teachable moments download the tip sheet.