Try typing "how to tie someone up" into a Google search bar and see what happens. I'll skip ahead and tell you: There are a slew of results that offer step-by-step lessons in "bondage 101" and countless Reddit posts telling readers how to dominate their partners sexually. Many of the posts emphasize discussing boundaries before participating in any sort of bondage activity; others don't. The latter take what might be called a "50 Shades of Grey" approach to BDSM education, leaving out crucial aspects of sexuality education that are crucial to teaching young adults how to make informed decisions about their sex lives.
That could be avoided, though, if we just talked about sex -- all different kinds of sex -- with teens.
As Twanna Hines writes at the Guardian, it's easy for new BDSM practitioners or young people interested in "kinky" sex to access information online -- but the Internet doesn't always help them assess risks or understand consent, least of all the way a trained professional educator can:
Some, like [anti-abortion activist Lila] Rose, argue that educating young people puts them at risk -- that teenagers are better off not knowing about how to engage in it safely and consensually -- but they are wrong. There is no red-bricked wall or barbed-wired fence separating sex and “kinky” sex -- but there are ways to educate young people in age-appropriate ways, answer their questions honestly and provide them the means to explore their burgeoning sexualities in ways that are safe and consensual for them and their partner(s). ...
Hines argues that the key aspects of healthy BDSM sexual relationships -- specifically establishing boundaries and developing self-esteem -- are crucial to any healthy sexual relationship, not just kinky ones. While it's tricky, she notes, to help a 17-year-old determine when it's best to participate in consensual erotic asphyxiation -- letting someone choke her or him -- it's also key to helping teens develop an understanding of physiologically and psychologically safe sex. The issue, of course, isn't just limited to kink; there's too little discussion about sex in general. That doesn't mean, though, that any increase in sex education is necessarily good enough, according to Hines:
Sex education and counselling have to start with the premise that healthy bodies are our goal – and pleasure is not inherently evil. Individual teens and youth adults who comprise the next generation are responsible for their own health – with the primary guidance of their parents and guardians.
But we can’t symbolically tuck some forms of consensual sexual activity away from them on a high shelf any more than we can block them from loving however and whoever they wish – with or without our approval.
Teaching kids about healthy sexuality means teaching them about all forms of healthy sexuality -- even ones that might lean outside the mainstream. Kinky sex doesn't have to be scary or dangerous, and there's plenty of information out there for it not to be. It's just not all of the information.