Finding a way in to talk to your teen about sexual harassment and assault is not always easy, unless your teen has personally been affected by it. Talking theoretically and lecturing kids on the no's of sexual assault and harassment can bring on the glazed eyes. But today I would be hard pressed not to think that even teens must be talking about the "grabbing pussy"tape.
Social networking has become a hotbed of sexual banter and harassment for teens. Unfortunately many boys think girls like to be addressed and harassed using sexual language, and many girls think that sexual attention is a good kind of attention. Just the other day a parent contacted me about these kinds of things going on at her teen's middle school: "Boys are rating girls on looks and publishing on social media everywhere," Boys verbally poking fun at girls, making fun of their bodies, in person and over social media." These are 6th and 7th graders the mom told me!
What Donald's Trump tape has done has allowed teens to hear out loud just how crass and disrespectful this language is, and how uncomfortable and disrespected the receiver feels.and that in fact it is against the law to grab anyone's anything! The more women come out of the "harassment closet" and share their stories, the more our young teen women and men get another side of the story. Which could not be more important. Because teens mostly talk to each other using this language in texts and snap chats, or send sexy provocative pictures, they never have the first hand experience of literally hearing what this language sounds like, and how it makes someone who receives it feels. I have heard from many parents whose teens, both girls and boys have been on the receiving end of unwanted sexual banter, but feel ill-equipt to stop it.
Parents watch the Donald and Billy Bush tape with your teen boys and girls. Read them the stories that Donald's victims have shared about their sexual assault and how it made them feel. Replace their "it's not a big deal" with the real pain and humiliation that these woman have suffered, And give them the language to ward off what has become normative teen-speak!
Understand with them that attention feels good, and that flirting, and goofing around is great and normal. But when language and actions become sexual, predatory and disrespectful a boundary of respect and safety has been crossed. Help them find the language to change the conversation.
PS. Thank you to the many hundreds of people who watched my inaugural Facebook live broadcast. Here it is below if you missed it. Follow me on Facebook and tune in next Sunday, Oct 23rd @8 PM for the next one. Feel free to write questions for me to answer next week, you can write below in comment section or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.facebook.com/joani.geltman