Unfortunately, sexual harassment is very common among teens. Even if your teen is not being harassed or harassing others, they play a role in what goes on around them. What role do you want them to play?
Here are some tips for navigating discussions with your kids about sexual harassment:
- Define the behavior. It is hard for kids to recognize something as sexual harassment if they do not know what it is. It is helpful to give your kids an opportunity to define and recognize behaviors that are degrading or inappropriate.
- Teach your kids to be mindful of what they view. Teens are constant social media consumers. What they see on TV or social media is normalized for them. It is healthy for kids to be critical of what they are viewing. One way you can teach your kids to question what they see is to engage in discussions about what they see. Ask them if they think what others are saying or posting is demeaning or unkind.
- Role-play in a safe environment. This can be a great way for kids to think about and practice what they would like to say or do in response to sexual harassment of themselves or others. Many teens and adults stay silent when faced with sexual harassment. Model what it looks like to address sexual harassment when you see it.
- Help them understand the consequences. Degrading comments or actions can have lasting impact on the way a person views themselves.
It is important that your teen takes sexual harassment seriously. Encourage them to be allies to those subjected to harassment, and to lead with kindness and understanding.
Written by: Elizabeth Kraich