A recent national study was released describing the prevalence of sexual harassment that middle and high school aged kids experience. Sadly, half of all kids reported that they felt harassed through verbal comments via texts, the internet or face to face. I’m not surprised. But what I am glad to see is that kids who are hearing or reading sexual comments are telling us that they are occurring but more importantly, that these comments bother them. This, to me is the most telling news of all.
We parents live with the belief that sexual language is out there and that, while our kids hear it every day, it’s just part of life. We worry about what our kids hear at school and fear that there’s very little that we can do about it. Our culture is so saturated with sexual messages that most of us feel overwhelmed when it comes to helping our kids navigate through them with any sense of modesty intact. So when I hear that kids are bothered by sexual comments, my heart leaps. Kids are telling us that they don’t like so much sexual talk- particularly when it is directed at them.
Our job as parents is to help our kids stay emotionally and sexually healthy in a world which is trying to chew them up and spit them out. Shame on us when we believe that they aren’t disturbed by sexual chatter around them. We, I fear have become duped into believing that sexual talk really doesn’t bother them.
The report pointed to the fact that schools are doing a better job at helping kids deal with sexual harassment. Good for them. We parents need to step up to the plate and help our kids by telling them that exposure to sex really does hurt them. Then, we need to teach them how to maintain a healthy sense of modesty. In the meantime, we need to be careful not to miss who the clear culprit for the harassment is: the media and advertising companies. They are the ones stirring the sexual offenses against our lovely children. Studies come along and report that teachers are left cleaning up their mess but why should they be the only ones responsible for dealing with such an inordinate problem? They shouldn’t.
It’s high time that we start beating on the beast which is responsible for the pain our kids feel by closing our wallets or protesting the onslaught of their aggressive sexual messages. Really curbing sexual harassment begins right there.