Want To Prevent Sexual Harassment And Assault? Start By Teaching Kids


Published:

In the wake of sexual assault and harassment allegations involving Harvey Weinstein and Bill O'Reilly, Americans may be learning just how prevalent sexual violence is in our society.

So, what can be done to prevent it?

We have studied how family, school and neighborhood environments influence violent youth behavior. Building from this knowledge, we are working with schools to develop prevention programs.

Here’s what we’ve learned.

Reducing The Risks

Decreasing sexual violence means investing in prevention programs that address the causes of sexually abusive behavior. The majority of prevention programs aimed at teens and young adults often focus on teaching girls and women how to decrease their risk of being assaulted, with strategies such as watching out for each other at parties or being aware of their surroundings. Some include self-defense strategies.

Programs like these are generally found to be ineffective because they fail to address the realities that most assaults are committed by someone known and trusted. Harassment is commonly committed by someone in power, such as a teacher or supervisor. These types of programs may be able to reduce some risks, but real prevention needs to focus on the only person who can actually prevent harassment: the potential perpetrator.

It’s Everyone’s Problem

Increasingly, programs address this shortcoming by encouraging bystanders to challenge harassing behavior and jokes to help promote healthy, positive norms. For example, programs like Green Dot and Bringing in the Bystander help teach high school and college students to step in to prevent violence or help someone who has been assaulted. In 2014, President Obama and Vice President Biden launched the It’s On Us campaign to encourage bystanders to get involved. It provided real actions for college students to help protect their friends and neighbors, such as intervening when someone is harassing another person, providing support to someone who has been victimized or refusing to laugh at hurtful jokes or comments.

However, programs such as these face an uphill battle. Youth are exposed daily to the pervasive and nearly invisible ways that our society accepts and even condones sexually abusive behavior.

For example, as toddlers and preschoolers, young children are taught to ignore their personal boundaries of their bodies. Parents might pressure their children to hug a family member when they don’t want to. Instead, family members should teach children to talk honestly and assertively about how they do or do not want to be touched.

Fathers commonly joke about protecting our daughters from predatory boys who want to date them, because “we know how boys are.” This teaches both sons and daughters that boys are mindless aggressors and girls are helpless victims.

Parents are an important part of teaching positive attitudes and skills for healthy relationships, but few programs exist to teach them how to talk about these difficult subjects.

What About Men?

Some programs, such as Coaching Boys into Men, seek to engage men to see sexual violence as more than a “women’s problem” and understand their role preventing violence. Programs for men build on bystander interventions and encourage youth to challenge traditional expectations of masculinity that accept, or even promote, violence. As men’s perception that they are not masculine enough has been associated with increased rates of sexual violence, it is essential to provide role models of nonviolent masculinity.

However, prevention programs cannot ignore that 23 percent of boys and men experience sexual violence or harassment over their lifetime. Although rates of being raped or sexually assaulted are lower for men, males report experiencing sexual coercion, in which they are pressured or manipulated into sexual activity they don’t want, at rates that are nearly equal to women.

What’s Next?

Prevention needs to begin in early childhood and continue for life. Teaching skills to prevent violence starts with learning empathy for others, communication skills and problem solving. It involves promoting healthy sexual behavior through sex education focused on respect for self and others, communication and consent. Programs that empower youth to make positive changes in their communities show promise for preventing sexual violence.

School boards, employers and politicians have the power to strengthen and consistently apply policies to keep schools, workplaces and communities safe by holding abusers accountable for their actions. Leaders, and all bystanders, can refuse to hide or tolerate abusive behavior. Lastly, we can support services for both male and female victims that reduce the harm of these traumatic experiences.

Sexual abuse is not just a “women’s issue.” Men and women play a significant role in prevention. Acknowledging sexual assault as a community-wide problem that impacts all persons regardless of gender is vital to preventing sexual assault.

Poco Kernsmith is a professor of social work at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She received her PhD in social welfare in 2002 from UCLA with a study of gender differences in intimate partner violence perpetration. She is also currently pursuing a masters in public health, with a focus on epidemiology. She has worked in domestic violence and sexual assault victim services agencies in crisis intervention, legal advocacy and community education, including developing of prevention programs for high schools and universities to address dating violence and sexual assault.

Joanne Smith-Dardenis an associate professor at Wayne State University. She has been funded to study interpersonal violence, sexual violence, teen dating violence, and youth violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 2012 on two consecutive RO1s. She has authored and co-authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and presented her research nationally and internationally.

Megan Hicks is a post-doctoral fellow in the school of social work at Wayne State University.

This article was republished from The Conversation.

See also:
Why Boys Need To Have Conversations About Emotional Intimacy In Classrooms
For Native Mothers, A Way To Give Birth That Overcomes Trauma

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

January 17, 2020

Ready yourself for a challenging but potentially fruitful day. With the Capricorn Sun close by Saturn and Pluto, the testing early morning Last Quarter Libra Moon prompts a serious assessment of priorities, tactics and partners. Some folks overcome…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

January 2020

We welcome back, Marcia Shaw of Goshen as she shares the beautiful energies of her Core Harmonizer. This portable unit, developed by Ross Newkirk (a former Chester resident), creates a blissful...

Cost: Suggested Donation $10

Where:
Center for Inner Wellness
26B Main Street
Chester, MA  01011
View map »


Sponsor: Center for Inner Wellness
Telephone: 413-315-1133
Contact Name: Maureen Suriner
Website »

More information

In level I, we learned how our ancestor's beliefs, thoughts, feelings, emotions, unresolved issues and even gifts are passed down energetically through our DNA. In this advanced course, we will...

Cost: $85

Where:
The Dragonfly Shop
Keene, NH


Sponsor: Dragonfly Shop
Telephone: (603) 354-3471
Contact Name: Cynthia
Website »

More information

We continue the practice of intuitive self expression using the vehicle of collage work. We will be guided by the principles of Soul Collage and led by Amy Shuman to create collage cards....

Cost: Suggested Donation $10

Where:
Center for Inner Wellness
26 Main Street
Chester, MA  01011
View map »


Sponsor: Center for Inner Wellness
Telephone: 413-315-1133
Contact Name: Maureen Suriner
Website »

More information

I'm certain you've heard the saying, "Why worry when you can pray." And I am more certain that you have never heard anyone say, "Why worry when you can Tachyonize!" Yet,...

Cost: Free (preregistration is required)

Where:
The Sanctuary for Celestial Empowerment
10 Grassmere Avenue
Suite #300
West Hartford, CT  06110
View map »


Sponsor: Psychotherapy Healing Services, LLC
Telephone: 860-798-6176
Contact Name: Celeste E. Mattingly, LCSW
Website »

More information

Join us for some pampering time to refresh and renew you! After all the hustle, bustle and holiday indulging come and detox and refresh body and soul! Get your new year readings chakra...

Cost: $60: 3 pack service special; $25: single service

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers — Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd, Unit A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey
Website »

More information

How wi-fi, smart meters, cell antennas and 5g present risks to our health, privacy, security and the planet—and available solutions. Public forum with leading national experts on:...

Cost: Free

Where:
Willard School
185 Powder Mill Rd
Concord, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The EMR Network, Wireless Education, and the National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy

More information

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Mindfulness meditation as a secular practice is enjoying its moment in the sun. Given the clamor for more mindfulness as a performance improvement tool, it behooves us to remember and emphasize the...

Cost: Suggested donation for general attendance is $15. CE credits available for $30.

Where:
CHA Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
1035 Cambridge Street
Suite 21A
Cambridge, MA  02141
View map »


Sponsor: Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy
Website »

More information

Discover Beauty. Discover Goodness. Discover Yourself. Your soul’s gifts are waiting. Breathe. Find stillness. The spark you need to ignite your life is here, within. Max Meditation...

Cost: $15

Where:
Modern Mystery School Boston
132 Charles St
3rd Floor
Auburndale, MA  02466
View map »


Sponsor: Modern Mystery School Boston
Telephone: 617-694-0994
Contact Name: Jordan Bain
Website »

More information

2nd and 4th Monday of every month This psychic message circle is for anyone wishing to raise their connection using their psychic centers known as the “clairs.” Learn how to use...

Cost: $20

Where:
Messages From Heaven Healing and Learning Center
646 Central Street
Suite 3
Leominster, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Acupuncture is a part of ancient Chinese medicine that has been used in this country for decades. Hear from Brenda Scott, LAc, a Waltham-based acupuncturist to learn what acupuncture can be used to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Waltham Public Library
735 Main Street
Waltham, MA  02451
View map »


Sponsor: Waltham Public Library
Telephone: 781-314-3441
Contact Name: Debora Hoffman
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Do you have questions related to divorce and asset division, retirement accounts or the QDRO process? About this event: Please join us for an evening dedicated to one of the most important...

Cost: Free

Where:
Skylark Law & Mediation, PC
9 Main Street
Southborough, MA  01772
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

World famous seminars (www.understandingofmusic.com) turns beginners into musicians, revitalizes and inspires even pro musicians.

Where:
Sheraton 4 Points
Revere, MA


Telephone: (781) 599-1476
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

We all agree that we are supposed to eat a healthy diet, but with all of the conflicting information and fad diets out there, it can be hard to even know what that is. In this class we will talk...

Cost: $20

Where:
Open Circle Acupuncture & Healing
411 West Main Street, Suite 2R (rear of building)
Northborough, MA  01532
View map »


Sponsor: Open Circle Acupuncture & Healing
Telephone: 508-393-1212
Contact Name: Kim Flaherty
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Saturday January 18th, 2020 from 10:30-4pm and Sunday January 19th, 2020 from 10:30-4pm In Reiki Master Level you will learn the master symbols, receive the master level attunement and learn how...

Cost: $295 for new students, $195 for the refresher option

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough Shopping Center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Welcome to 2020 and a new energy decade. 2020 ushers in the Age of Aquarius – a time of our collective awakening to higher consciousness. Simply put, our systems are being upgraded. Time to...

Cost: $60

Where:
Private Office
6 Royal Crest Drive
#11
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Diana Harris
Contact Name: Diana Harris
Website »

More information

This is a class that will teach you how to make your own wire-wrapped gemstone pendant! Don’t be discouraged—it is simpler than you think, and you’ll have great fun in crafting...

Cost: Reg includes supplies $40 per person or $35 more than one

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd, Unit A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags