News comes out day after day about sexual harassment. It happens to everyone in the country from little girls to middle-aged men in business field. Nobody can be free from the possibility of sexual harassment.
That may be one of the most concerned problems for parents. You don’t know when your middle-school girl will be asked to send a topless picture to a male peer on a social media platform, or how she would be shamed by sexualized words she has never heard of. She may not be brave enough to tell you all about this because she thinks you’ll consider it something horrible.
That is a real case happened to a 14-year-old girl in the US. There are so many cases like this that parents couldn’t help to ask: how can I talk to my kid about sexual harassment, and what contents should I include?
Be aware that children and teens don’t think of the world in the same way as we do. They don’t have enough experience to describe or feel the same concept of “love” as adults, let alone understand the specific definition of love for every individual. When talking about sexual harassment, we should first talk about love.
Reflect on the many forms of love
For most adults, love in a partnership refers to long-term togetherness and company; while for teens, they may consider love as the intense feelings or an inability to stop thinking about someone. So, your first topic should be how love can mean differently to different people, and share your experiences to explain how love can change and grow over time.
Talk about healthy and unhealthy relationships
Without proper guidance, teens may not know what a healthy and normal relationship is like. Talk to your kid about the meaning of mutual respect and the fact that it’s perfectly normal for relationships to ebb and flow. This will help them calm down when a relationship ends and lower the risk of sexual harassment.
Define sexual harassment
Lots of kids don’t understand the meaning of sexual harassment. They don’t know that both girls and boys can be sexually harassed, and that sexual harassment goes beyond unwanted touching.
Sexual harassment includes:
· Verbal harassment, including comments, rumors, catcalls or jokes
· Cyber harassment – posts on social media, text messaging and email
· Physical harassment, such as unwanted touching or kissing
· Nonverbal harassment, including gestures, writing sexually explicit things about someone
· Unwanted behavior, such as repeatedly asking someone on a date when they’ve said no, following or stalking .
What you kid should do when experiencing sexual harassment:
· Call it what it is. Use the words “sexual harassment,” not “bullying."
· Tell a trusted adult.
· Jot down notes, including the time of day, the place it occurred and other people present.
· Report it to the school.
One strategy parents can use is using news on sexual harassment as a topic to start a conversation. Every time when you see news on TV or in the newspaper, make it the topic at dinner table that day. Through all the topics going deep, your kid’s awareness and knowledge of sexual harassment will increase, thus they can protect themselves from being harassed.
Tell your child that no one can touch their personals without their permission, not even parents, friends or doctors. In an interview of sexual harassment education, a parent shared that she told her kid to punch dad in the eye if he touched his personal without permission, and so to mom. “When they know they can do this to even mom and dad, they are more likely to do this to a stranger when sexually harassed.” She said.
It is important for parents, even those of older children, to pause, reflect and readdress this critically important topic, regardless of their age. Protecting your children from sexual harassment is the first thing you can do to make them live a happy life.