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


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

Poco Kernsmith, Joanne Smith-Darden

Prevention needs to begin in early childhood and continue for life.

"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."


But no need to distinguish the sexual from other violence. What needs to begin in “early childhood” is indeed respect for others and empowerment to demand respect for oneself. Also, we all need to learn courage, a big part of empowerment. As long as violent victimization exists, we have to refuse to be shattered by it.

I failed my own child in this, though in the wide-open, seriously feminist last quarter of the 20th century. Thank goodness they got through and found their own life force, and that the world now knows the words to use for it.


Until we address our culture’s insane anti-sexual attitude that pretends children have no interest in sex (think of the children!) and criminalizes teenage sexuality - good luck reducing sexual harassment.


But harassment isn’t about sex. It’s about power.

I agree to recognizing kids’ interest in sex, giving them better education about their bodies. But that will not cure harassment as long as we maintain hierarchies of power.