Capacity to Consent

Updated: APRIL 30, 2019

Capacity to consent refers to an individual's ability to understand, make, and communicate decisions about sexual activity. Examples of people who lack the capacity to consent include children, people with certain (but not all) mental and developmental handicaps, intoxicated people, and people who are unconscious. Some of these people may seem to be consenting, but because they lack the ability to undertand the implications and consequences of the situation at hand, they do not have the capacity to consent.

More About Capacity to Consent

Capacity to consent is a concept that is overlooked when sexual education focuses heavily on "no means no" as the standard for consensual sexual activity. That standard assumes that anyone not saying "no" is okay to engage with sexually.However, true consent needs to come in the form of a "yes" from a person who has the mental capacity to understand what is going on.


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