Amidst the multitude of sexual harassment and assault allegations recently making headlines, perhaps we should ask ourselves, why is this so common in our culture? And more importantly, what can we do about it? It seems so complicated, but really, it’s pretty simple. What if, we adjusted our thinking and behavior to show respect and compassion to all people – men, women, girls, and boys?
A large part of the problem of sexual misconduct in men is that we excuse certain behaviors from our male children by repeating a long held mantra, “boys will be boys,” when we should be raising and expecting all of our children to be respectful, compassionate, and basically, just human.
What can we expect from boys? Well, we can expect them to be a product of their upbringing, certainly. We should also expect our boys to be held to the same standard as our girls. “Boys will be boys” is no longer an acceptable phrase to excuse an entire gender of behaviors that are undesirable. Actually this sentiment is offensive to boys and men. It gives us the inaccurate picture that boys and men are incapable of acting in a respectful, dignified, and compassionate manner.
Talking to our children, both male and female about appropriate sexual behaviors, boundaries, personal safety, and respecting others, would be a great place to start. This isn’t really the topic for a one time only conversation – that’s the old way and it doesn’t always work. What we need to consider is that if we start early and have a running dialogue with our children, both male and female, about their bodies and boundaries and personal safety (age appropriate of course) we will be the “go to” choice when they are seeking answers to their difficult questions. What do we tell our growing children about the meaning of NO and talking about sex beyond biology and into issues of consent, peer interaction, and even the law? Start early. Talk often. Pave the way for a different future for our children and for all of us.
Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!