“Nobody ever says I wanna be a [RAPIST] when I grow up.” I liked those late ’80s commercials stressing the importance of making early anti-drug decisions by choosing NOT to be a drug-user. As a passionate advocate of abuse prevention, I teach my children, and admonish others to teach their children, NOT to be rapists and NOT to be abusers (sexual, physical, emotional, or otherwise). People usually ask, “How? What’s a practical way?” My response: “Explicitly!” We don’t teach our children much else in vague terms. We don’t JUST say, “Mind your manners.” We say, “Don’t put your elbows on the table.” We don’t JUST say, “Respect others’ things.” We say, “Don’t go upstairs without their permission, or don’t run in their home, or don’t jump on their couch.” Well, I’d much rather your son run across my couch than rape my daughter! Likewise, I’m sure you’d much rather my daughter put her elbows on the table than rape your son (or daughter). Yet, we shy away from telling our growing children such needed truths, like:
Don’t let anyone hit you. If someone keeps trying to have sex with you after you’ve said no…
- Don’t raise your hands to hit someone unless it’s in self-defense (from some kid who didn’t learn these life skills).
- Don’t have sex with someone who doesn’t understand what sex is, whether due to age, maturity, or intellect.
- Whether it’s their body, money, or property, don’t take advantage of someone else who’s not as intellectually capable as you.
- Don’t have sex with anyone unless you both agree and both understand the purpose and possible outcomes of your actions.
- Whomever you’re having sex with should be making a clear, conscious choice – so they can’t be drunk, passed out, unsure, etc.
- Don’t blame women when men rape. This includes questioning their dress, company, friendships, consensual sexual history.
- Don’t say/think men can’t be raped…by WOMEN. Genital arousal from stimulation does not equate with consent.
- STOP waiting for “No,” and get a clear “Yes.” Someone not saying “No” is not the same as someone giving consent. “How far do you want this to go?” “You’re good with us having sex?” “I want to be inside you, but only if you want it.” “I want you inside of me, but only if you want it, too.” Very easy phrases to articulate if you’re committed to not sexually assaulting others.
The list really can go on and on, and I’ll likely add to it, but feel free to add more below.
As a Christian mother, I want my children to wait for marriage, but should they choose not to do so, I want them to wait for consent. It’s no different than my not wanting them to drink, but should they choose to do so, I don’t want them to drive drunk. I know I’m weighing more heavily on sexual assault because it’s something I’m passionate about preventing and because I know there are more parents telling their children not to hit than parents telling their children not to rape. I believe both are needed. At any rate, this is the parenting paradigm shift I’d love to see grasped in more homes. I want my daughter and sons to be safe from abuse and/or sexual assault, but I also want my sons and daughter to understand the equal importance of not being an abuser/assailant.
In closing, I’ll leave you some sobering stats:
75% of parents say they have had a conversation with their teen about what it means to be in a healthy relationship
- YET, Only 28% of teens say they have had a conversation about dating abuse with Mom, and fewer than half as many (13%), say they have had a dating abuse conversation with Dad
- 71% of teens whose families have been affected by the economy in the past year have NOT had a conversation with a parent about dating abuse
In comparison, more than 8 out of 10 of these teens say they HAVE had a conversation with a parent about:
» Money (92%)
» The economy in general (86%)
» Family finances (82%)
At some point, we must admit we emphasize what we value! Let’s value our children, their safety, and their futures!