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How Do You Talk to Your Kids About Sexual Harassment?

It seems that with every passing week, there are new sexual harassment allegations against powerful figures in the media industry. Several high-profile men have been taken down following credible allegations against them, beginning with Harvey Weinstein in the beginning of October all the way to Matt Lauer last week.

With all of the news on sexual harassment, the process of how to approach the subject when talking to children is a question that has many parents scratching their heads. There is no one correct way to do it, and there is no ensuring that a method one parent uses will be successful with another family. For some, the topic is already integrated into their everyday conversations.

“While I hate that there are so many women being harassed, each time a story comes out, it’s just one more example to point to and show my son that it doesn’t matter who you are and what power you possess, harassment as well as taking advantage of anyone in the workplace isnever acceptable,” says Norman Nathman, editor for the online community GrokNation. “I feel that so many young kids know better than these men who have shown [a] propensity for these things and it’s absolutely shameful!”

She isn’t wrong it seems that many of the accused tend to fall into the older category, meaning that parents in today’s society seem to be doing much better at raising their children to be respectful of their bodies and of others’. But with stories like Brock Turner’s in mind, the conversations should, by all means, continue.

Not only should parents be including the topic of sexual harassment in conversations with their children, but the mission to make children more aware of their bodily rights is

 one that is constantly ongoing. Parents should begin to implement this idea with their children at a young age.

“Let your kids give insight on what’s happening, and why they think it’s happening,” says Tricia Ferrara, author of the book Parenting 2.0. “This allows them to articulate their posture on things — whether it be having a second cookie after dinner or something more serious. They need practice at articulating how they feel from an early age.”

The earlier that children are able to aptly articulate their theories, the more easily they can confidently articulate their feelings when it becomes crucial.

Part of allowing children to articulate their feelings includes giving them permission to react appropriately when they feel their personal safety is being threatened. Janeane Davis, a mother of four, makes it so that the discomfort is perfectly clear.

“I started when they were about 3 and told them, ‘If Mommy touches your personals without permission, punch me in the eye and then go tell Daddy on me,’ ” she explains. “I told them the same thing about Daddy.”

“I figured if they knew they had permission to punch a parent in the eye for inappropriate touching and that a parent could get in trouble for it, they would feel free to push anyone aside and not fear a penalty.”

Regardless of whether a parent is trying to discover the best way to discuss the topic or doing the best they can in teaching their children personal boundaries, sexual harassment has become a necessary conversation topic between parents and children. Hopefully, the vigorous teachings and constant conversations will lead to a future generation free of sexual harassment.

Featured Image by Kamaljith K V on Flickr

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