6 Ways We (Accidentally) Teach Our Kids Rape Culture, by Joanna Schroeder

A cute 5 year old female child dressed in pink plaid shirt with blue jeans staring out into the rodeo arena dreaming of riding horses one day. The image has a vintage / western coloring theme with left side copy space.

No parent (that I’ve ever met) would ever dream of teaching their child that rape is okay. But every day, in many different ways, well-meaning parents contribute to rape culture, and our kids suffer for it.

As moms and dads, we probably don’t talk directly about rape to kids, at least not until they’re older. But we’re still sending messages about sex and consent all the time. Because of that, we need to make sure we’re not teaching them some very dangerous lessons, even if just by accident.

Here are six (very common) ways we get it wrong, and how we can do better …

1. Telling our kids that “boys will be boys.”

As a mom of very active boys, I know most people don’t mean any harm when they say “boys will be boys,” but too often that phrase is used to excuse bad behavior, like hitting other kids or being destructive.

The truth is, boys are perfectly capable of respecting other people’s bodies,possessions, and space. But every time they hear us excuse their bad behavior as part of boy life, they learn that they are not only above the rules, but also that boys cannot control their impulses.

This message will stick with them as they grow older and sexual desire starts to kick in. As parents, we cannot be shocked that boys feel entitled to sexually harass others (whether it’s standard rape, like in Steubenville, or as part of the all-too-common tradition of sexual “hazing”) when we’ve been telling them their whole lives that they are above the rules, by virtue of being boys.

2. Forcing kids to hug and kiss others.

Lots of well-meaning, loving parents tell their kids to give a friend or relative a hug without considering whether their kid really wants to. This sends the dangerous message that consent can be over-ridden, or doesn’t matter at all.

Instead, suggest a few different ways to greet or say goodbye to loved ones. I ask my kids, “Do you want to give grandma a hug, or maybe a high five or a wave goodbye?”

Kids need to know, from the beginning of life, that consent matters.


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Tech Savvy – Danger Ignorant: Kids and the Internet, by John Somerfield, Senior Constable and School Community Officer, New Zealand Police


Girls on net Collage FY1

For  young  people,  the  internet  has  become  an  important  source  of entertainment  and  leisure,  a  means  to  communicate  and  form meaningful relationships with others, and a platform for creativity and self expression (www.netsafe.org.nz).

This being said, the internet is like a big city. It makes sense that mums and dads would never leave a child or young person to wander about on their own.  It would be easy to imagine them turning a corner and finding themselves in a street where they are not safe.

We can be tempted to throw up our hands and say, “They know everything there is to know about this stuff. It’s a waste of time even trying to learn.”

The thing to remember is that young people may be tech savvy, but they tend to be danger ignorant. They will jump into things and sometimes the results can be less than ideal.  It is helpful to think about internet education the same as you would when teaching a child to ride a bike. You start out in the backyard, moving to the driveway and then to the footpath. Then out onto the road, with you riding behind them. You get them a good helmet and some reflectorised things to go on their bike; you tell them about the rules and about your expectations.   You know that road safety is a serious business.  Hazards on the road become clearer when we jump on our own bike and ride with our kids.

There are many internet offences that young people can get caught up in. These  include  threats,  harassment,  blackmail,  fraud,  objectionable  content and grooming, all the way down to things like miscommunications that lead to anger, and then on to physical violence in our community.  If your child gets caught up, it is important that we keep our heads. We need to count to ten before we react. We want to be the adults they trust when they go looking for advice.

# Go to www.netsafe.org.nz.   If you are not confident with computers, you can print off a copy of the Staying Safe Online booklet. Netsafe is a one-stop shop for anything internet. You can find advice on a huge range of issues including the latest scams and what to do about them.

# Have a chat to your teen about what they are doing online and who they are talking to.

# Set your family rules early. In our family we do not allow computers, Ipods or other internet capable devices in the bedroom. We use them in a place where an adult can see and help if required.

# If you don’t understand it, try it. Take the time to improve your knowledge by actually using the services, tools and apps that your kids use.

# Each device needs its own content filter. Content filters are available for sites  such  as  YouTube,  available  as  apps  on  Ipods;  and  you  can  even purchase a modem that filters everything that comes into the home.

# Remember that a red label on your movie or game means it is restricted.There are penalties for letting underage kids or teens see or play. R13  R16 R18. In New Zealand the fine is up to $3,000 even when you are unaware of the rating.Have a look at the new booklet on the NetSafe site for ways to stay safe on Facebook, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Trade Me and Twitter. http://www.netsafe.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/Staying-Safe-Online-NZ.pdf 

Originally published in the Star newspaper, Dunedin NZ, 2014.  “The Forever Years” would like to thank John Somerfield for agreeing to republish here.

50 Things You Can Do To Make Your Kids Street Smart, By Chonce Maddox


Are your children equipped to manage and make decisions when you aren’t present?

When my son was 4-years-old last year and we had a small fire in the kitchen, I wondered the same thing.

I was at home with him of course, but when his dad was busy trying to put the fire out and I was anxious to remove my son from the house, he froze and didn’t know what to do.

At first he ran back to his room to turn the television off!

Then he just looked confused and scared when I asked him repeatedly to put his coat and shoes on and step outside.

When I finally got him outside and to safety, we put the fire out and I suddenly felt like a horrible parent. We never even practiced fire drills at home, I thought to myself. If we had, maybe he would’ve known not to run back into his room and turn things off; he would have just ran for the door, I chastised myself.

But I don’t think we’re very different from other parents. Like most parents I know, I spent most of my time helping my preschooler learn the alphabet and how to spell his name. On a good day when everything was fine, practicing fire drills at home doesn’t normally cross your mind.

Yet, teaching them some of these “other” things is important.

As parents, we won’t be by our child’s side 24/7 – so, it is is crucial that we teach them how to be street smart. It’s just as important to teach them how to behave and interact with the world around them as it is to teach them how to excel academically.

To read more, follow the link below…