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We’ve been hearing about a lot of incidents of sexual harassment these days as many people speak up and start to report inappropriate incidents. However, as mothers, one of the things that worry us is how to protect our children from any digital sexual harassment as they’re constantly online.
We spoke to Rahet Bally’s positive psychology and parenting expert to give us her advice and tips to protect children from cyber sexual harassment of any sort:
How to protect teenagers from virtual sexual harassment:
Build a relationship based on trust with your children
According to Hany, what’s even more difficult for a child than being subjected to abuse or harassment is being afraid to ask for help. Having an open relationship with your child where they feel it’s a safe space will allow them to come running to you and tell you that they don’t know what to do in this situation. This is the first step to protect them as they know they can trust you and that you’ll believe them, listen, and support them no matter what.
Explain to teenagers what sexual harassment is and the different types they can be subjected to
When it comes to sexual education, Hany always recommends that it is important to teach children how to protect themselves and their bodies without mentioning harassment or abuse at a young age. However, as a child grows older, it is essential to explain what sexual harassment is and all the forms of harassment they can be subjected to.
This will enable them to protect themselves and identify the abuse if it occurs. Teenagers need to understand that just like there is physical sexual harassment, there are other types such as verbal sexual harassment and cyber sexual harassment. Digital sexual harassment can involve being photographed, filmed, receiving or being asked to send inappropriate photographs or words.
Encourage children to trust their instincts
A child who is raised with parents respecting his/her emotions and desires when he/she refuses or feels uncomfortable dealing with a person or being in a specific place, will not be afraid to acknowledge their discomfort in certain situations. They will be able to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty or surrendering to pressure even if they still can’t differentiate right from wrong.
Sexual education is no longer a choice but a necessity when raising children. It is also a foundation in educating teenagers who are surrounded by incorrect information and have a curiosity that can put them in danger just to get answers.
We all need to prepare our children and be prepared for every stage and the sexual changes that occur in children. This will help us support them with the necessary information before being subjected to inappropriate situations where they can be victims of cyber harassment.
Be one step ahead
We don’t have to wait for our children to experience inappropriate incidents in order to educate and talk to them. Being one step ahead and opening discussions that they need to be aware of can save us a lot of trouble. For example, using current events and what’s happening on social media as a point of discussion will give us the floor to explain the dangers of cyber harassment.
Ask them what their opinion is on what they just read on social media or if they know someone who faced a similar situation. And then you can follow up by asking them if they know how they should react if put in this situation, or what the punishment or consequences are for the harasser.
When you start the discussion, you give them room to ask more questions and have an idea of what should be done to protect themselves from cyber harassment. You’ll also make them feel comfortable coming to you for help and knowing that you’ve always got their back.
- My 6-Year-Old Child Is a Sexual Harasser
- How to Prevent Sexual Harassment During Your Child’s Training
- 5 Safety Rules to Protect Your Children from Sexual Harassment
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