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Young Adult Nonfiction Dating & Sex

Real Talk About Sex and Consent

What Every Teen Needs to Know

by (author) Cheryl M. Bradshaw

New Harbinger Publications
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
Dating & Sex
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 13 to 18
  • Grade: 8 to 12


"A truly vital and nuanced guide that is as empowering as it is educational."
School Library Journal (starred review)
You deserve clear, accurate information about sexual consent! Let this honest and empowering book be your go-to guide.

Let’s get real: Sex is complicated. Like, really complicated. And as a teen, you need trusted resources to help you navigate sexual issues without shame, guilt, or judgment. But if you’re like many teens, you may not have someone in your life that you can talk to openly about complicated sexual situations, and what consent really means—and this information is crucial for your health, safety, and happiness.

Real Talk About Sex and Consent is a comprehensive guide with essential information about setting boundaries, coercion, reciprocity, and communication. You’ll also find hard facts about sex and trauma, the effects of pornography and cultural expectations, and much more. With this book, you’ll learn how to make sexual decisions that honor your sense of values and cultivate rewarding and emotionally supportive relationships throughout your life.

This book goes past simple definitions of sex and consent and explores the hidden pressures, misrepresented expectations, and realities of sex—and what to do about it all.

It’s time to get informed and take control of your sexual self. This book will give you the tools you need to make decisions that are right for you.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Cheryl M. Bradshaw, MA, is a registered psychotherapist working in private practice, and author of How to Like Yourself—a self-esteem guide for teens—and The Resilience Workbook for Teens. She has been featured on various television shows, radio shows, and podcasts, including Breakfast Television, Global’s The Morning Show, CBC Radio, and Today’s Parent. Her first book was also selected as a 2016 Foreword INDIES finalist for the 2016 Young Adult Nonfiction category. In addition, Cheryl received the inaugural Outstanding Alumni Award from Yorkville University in 2017. Bradshaw served as a counselor at both Sheridan College and the University of Guelph. She also has a background in teaching, and continues to work with and volunteer with schools and charities to talk about youth and young adult mental health, self-esteem, and also to support parents with their teens.

Bradshaw resides in Hamilton, ON, Canada; with her husband, Andrew; their daughter; and their dogs, Baxter and Kiara. Find out more about her at, and on social media @cherylmbradshaw.

Editorial Reviews

Real Talk about Sex and Consent is a current and engaging guide for teens using language they understand and stories they can relate to. Bradshaw’s skillful use of metaphors and acronyms makes key concepts about consent easy for readers to understand and put into action. It is also an invaluable tool for parents and other caring adults in the lives of young people who want to have meaningful conversations with them about this important topic. My stepdaughters will definitely be getting a copy!”
—Saleema Noon, BA, MA, OBC, sexual health educator, and coauthor of Talk Sex Today

“Written in a way that is honest, informative, and engaging, Cheryl Bradshaw’s book, Real Talk About Sex and Consent, is an important read for all teenagers, educators, and parents. In order to shift often unsafe societal views around sex and relationships, our young people need to know and understand their rights regarding consent and intimacy. This book provides life-changing information, as well as practical ideas and scenarios so teenagers can feel empowered and safe as they head into adulthood.”
—Jayneen Sanders, educator, and author of Let’s Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect

“A ray of hope for our next generation! This book provides a clear and in-depth discourse on sex and consent, and meticulously walks the reader through the ‘who, what, when, where, why, and how’ of total consent. Bradshaw demystifies the often misunderstood experience of survivors of sexual assault. A crucial read in the time of the #MeToo movement. It’s a must-read for teens, parents, counselors, health care practitioners, lawyers, judges, and educators.”
—Kanchan Kurichh Keigher, MA, RP, registered psychotherapist; Ontario College Counselor at Sheridan College in Oakville, ON, Canada; and yoga teacher

Real Talk about Sex and Consent targets a deep and painful gap in our understanding of sexual intimacy. With her inviting style, Cheryl Bradshaw goes beyond the yes/no, providing depth and dimension to a topic we have only touched on at a surface level. Every teen should have the opportunity to move through apprehension to greater confidence in communicating needs and developing healthy and more fulfilling relationships. A true gift.”
—Erin Lipsitt, MSW, RSW, therapist, and mother of two teens

"This comprehensive guide to the legal, emotional, social, and physical aspects of consent shows teens that this issue is much more complicated than just saying 'yes' or 'no.' Bradshaw, who is a registered psychotherapist, focuses on creating healthy relationships that are safe and respectful, have boundaries, and involve enthusiastic consent. Readers are given the skills to communicate effectively and clearly. Bradshaw provides many examples of scenarios and scripts that depict what consent looks and sounds like. Aimed at all genders and all sexualities, chapters examine getting to know yourself and your desires, identities, and attractions; gendered stereotypes and dynamics; pornography, nudes, and sexting; laws regarding age, power dynamics, and the ability to consent; warning signals; solutions and approaches to conflict; factors that may affect consent; and how to recognize sexual assault and get help. Conversational, honest, and accessible, with an emphasis on consent as a complete way to approach intimacy, this resource is invaluable. Repetition and summaries drive home which aspects are involved in total consent. The text makes it clear that all people deserve respect and the ability to be in control while emphasizing that consent is an ongoing component of healthy, happy, safe, and respectful relationships. Back matter includes resources (books, videos, articles), sexual assault intervention training and programs, and where to find support. VERDICT: A truly vital and nuanced guide that is as empowering as it is educational."
Library Journal (starred review)

“Cheryl Bradshaw does a deep and important dive into the murky waters of teen sex and consent in her book, Real Talk about Sex and Consent. Not only does she bring clarity to the topic, but also empowers the reader in the process. Cheryl compassionately and effectively guides teens through the basics of sex, communicating with consent, boundaries, alcohol and drugs, and sexual assault. This is a must-read for every teen, parent, caregiver, and educator of teens.”
—Michelle Skeen, PsyD, and Kelly Skeen, coauthors of Just As You Are

“I spend a lot of time discussing complex and sometimes uncomfortable issues with teens and their families, and I admire the inclusive and accessible language Bradshaw uses to speak to young people. She provides clear and up-to-date information around the use of contraception and protection from sexually transmitted infections. I would recommend this book to teens and anyone who cares for them who is looking to start a conversation about healthy relationships!”
—Gabrielle Salmers, FRCPC, general pediatrician

“In Real Talk about Sex and Consent, Cheryl Bradshaw goes beyond simple slogans and gets to the root of why consent matters. Not only does this book help teens understand what true consent looks and sounds like, it’s a compassionate guide that teaches youth to better understand their desires, boundaries, and relationship needs.”
—Nadine Thornhill, EdD, sexuality educator, speaker, and cohost of Every Body Curious

“This book is an easy read that navigates through the fundamentals of consent. Using real examples that are clear and appreciable, the reader can understand consent and all the problematic avenues that an individual may face when applying consent skills. The reader is provided with an opportunity to reflect on the points presented to develop their confidence and values.”
—Lisa Perizzolo, MEd, SHEC, school counselor, and certified sexual health educator

“This book is timely, inclusive, and incredibly comprehensive. We have been teaching youth about their bodies, relationships, and their sexual health rights for over forty years—and this book effectively addresses their most asked questions and demystifies the topic of consent. This is a great resource for youth and their parents to start the conversation about consent, healthy relationships, and preventing sexual violence. We would highly recommend this book!”
—Centre for Sexuality, organization in Calgary, AB, Canada, that has been providing relationship and sexual health education to youth in Alberta since 1975

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