A hot topic in the world today is sexual assault and harassment in the workplace, but these acts are not limited to adults and certain career fields. Though it falls under the same level of comfortability as the dreaded sex talk, teaching children about sexual assault and harassment has become just as necessary.
The first thing to consider before jumping into this type of conversation is the age of your audience. In an article published on parents.com, Dr. Karen Soren, professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center recommends the “good touch/bad touch” conversation for children as young as age four and going through age ten. There are many videos, books, and articles to be found online about “good touch/bad touch” and how to explain it to children. Do a little research to find the best method for you and your family to discuss what is and what is not appropriate.
Once children reach the pre-teen and teen years, Dr. Soren recommends adding to the conversation. Discussions about consent, voluntary activity, and peer pressure become important pieces to the sexual assault and harassment conversation. Reiterate that their body belongs to them, and it is their right to say no to unwelcome activities and touch.
It’s also important to realize that sexual assault and harassment is not limited to females alone. Boys should be hearing and taking part in these same conversations. They reserve the right to say no and to respect others’ decisions to say no just as much as girls do, and any discussions about sexual assault and harassment should be shared with them too.
Though talking with children about these issues seems difficult and awkward, it does not have to be. Safety talks with your children should already be happening, and throwing sexual assault and harassment into the mix shouldn’t take them by surprise or catch them off guard. When discussing “stranger danger”, broach the subject of sexual assault and harassment as well. When talking about how to handle emergency situations, include sexual assault and harassment as an emergency situation and discuss how to handle it. It is possible to have these discussions without them being beyond awkward and hard to get through.
Sexual assault and harassment is a real thing that impacts people on a daily basis. With the recent spotlight shown on so many people who have fallen victim to this behavior, the importance of broaching this subject with children has become more prevalent. Use these tips and conduct research on your own to find the best ways to discuss sexual assault and harassment with your children. Knowledge is power. Share some knowledge with your kids.