The Girl Scouts Say #TimesUp: We Must Talk to Our Daughters About Sexual Harassment! by Kimberly Johnson
Chances are, the thought of discussing gender discrimination and harassment with your young daughter strikes fear in your heart. The truth is girls (and boys) need us to address these tough subjects because, tragically, you’re never too young to be affected by them. I am relieved to see the Girl Scouts have recognized that just one #MeToo is one too many.
In recent studies, it was found that one in 10 American girls had been catcalled before her 11th birthday, and one in six girls in elementary and secondary school dealt with gender-based harassment. This is too prevalent to be ignored, and can be part of the safety talks you are already having with your kids. Regarding harassment, gender discrimination and related matters, remind your daughter:
- No matter what, harassment, unwanted touching and sexist behavior are never her fault, nor could anything make her “deserving” of being objectified or feeling threatened. It is not something she should be embarrassed about and it does not make her weak.
- It is not rude or impolite to tell someone his/her behavior or actions are unacceptable when it comes to harassment or unwanted touching. If she is uncomfortable standing up to the person, it is fine to walk away and ask a trusted adult for help.
- Trust her gut. If she is left feeling uncomfortable but is unsure if what she experienced is harassment or discrimination, she should talk to an adult.
- Err on the side of caution. Unwanted touching or “teasing” is never a sign that someone likes her. She should get away from that person and tell an adult.
- She is not alone. Women and girls everywhere have had similar experiences. This does not make it acceptable, but she can rest assured she has a tribe of people behind her.