Over the last week, an alleged sexual assault case has been the one of the top news story. A 15 year old freshman girl has accused a then 18 year senior of rape. Graduating senior boys at this school have a tradition called Senior Salute, where the goal is to bed a freshman before graduation. Feeling flattered by the attention this girl agreed to meet up with this boy. I think she expected to do some fooling around, but she alleges that he become intent on having intercourse, despite her saying no quite clearly. He says they did not have intercourse. And now they are in court in a very public trial that has been picked up by the national media, and two young lives have been altered forever. Talking about sex and sexual assault with your teen is a delicate matter. As a parent you want your teen to understand the moral, legal and emotional consequences of participating in a sexual encounter that may or may not be consensual. But if you present your lecture on the “Moral, Legal and Emotional Consequences Of A Non-Consensual Sex Act” to your teen, you will have lost a valuable opportunity for opening communication on a subject that is uncomfortable to talk about especially with your parents. Your teen will clam up, roll their eyes, and tell you that they would never ever do anything like either of these two teens. End of conversation!!
Here are some strategies for opening up this conversation:
1. Start from a place of understanding not judgment: “ I get that this girl must have been flattered by this attention from an older boy.” And I get how this boy could get caught up in his school tradition of seniors hooking up with younger girls, even if he knows on some level that it is not right.”
2. Don’t lecture: In theory your teen understands that this boy took advantage of this girl. They don’t need you to tell them that. What they need is a safe haven to explore their own feelings. You might say to your daughter: There may be a situation that you’re in when you’re getting attention from a boy you have a crush on. I totally get flirting, but lets figure out how you can flirt without sending out the message that sex is on the table.” And with your son you might say: “ Understanding and knowing how far a girl really wants to go can be really hard to know sometimes, but it’s really important that you think about this. Lets come up with some cues from a girl that you should really pay attention to.”
3. Help them to develop the scripts and language that will help them out in situations that make them feel uncomfortable and/or unsafe. Most teens end up doing things they don’t want to because they don’t know what else to do. They can always use the “I need to go to the bathroom” excuse. It gets them out of the room without getting into a whole thing. Or, check the time, and say” my friends are waiting for me, and if I don’t show up, they’ll think something’s wrong.” For boys who are getting pressured by their friends to do something they don’t want to do: “It’s just not my thing!”
4. Remember that your teen is being led by their emotional brain, not their thinking one. Before they leave to hang out with friends, your parting words to them should always be: “What is your safety plan for tonight?”
5. Download circle of 6 app on your teen's phone: I know I'm usually telling you to delete apps, but this app is a must. It allows your teen to program 6 people, you should be one of them, so if they find themselves in an unsafe situation, any unsafe situation they can press one button which will send text and location to all 6 people, who can then get to her or him.
PS: Getting my speaking schedule up and running for the 2015-16 year. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in having me come and present one of my seminars at your school, company, church, temple, community group or on a street corner in your neighborhood!! Or book an Ask The Expert Party. Invite your friends, or the parents of your teen's friends to your house and I'll spend two hours giving you all tips and strategies, geared specifically to your needs.