As per the survey by MCC, 76% of respondents had never had a conversation with their parents about how to avoid sexually harassing others. Majorities of respondents had never had conversations with their parents about various forms of misogyny.
Though the survey was conducted in America, the results are no less relevant for India where in recent decades there has been a surge in the number of sexual harassment of school children. It is a sad reality that sex education is still a taboo and so is education about sexual harassment. Casual misogyny is no less a problem in schools and colleges in India than anywhere else in the world.
Often times, young students do not recognize what kind of behavior or language borders on misogyny or sexual harassment which seems to be a hindrance in identifying the problem at the grass root level. Here are six steps that researchers at MCC have recommended for Parents and Educators to help young students understand and prevent sexual harassment and misogyny:
Define the problem: Begin with making your child understand what kind of behavior falls under harassment and misogyny.
Step in when your child or peer makes a sexist comment: By staying silent, you introduce the idea that making sexist comments are normal. Do not normalize sexist behavior. This applies for all genders.
Teach your child to be a critical consumer of media and culture: Young children and teens encounter sexism and misogyny in popular culture media every day. As a Parent, Guardian or Educator, it is your duty to talk about the misogyny in media. Teach your child or students to filter out the information they see or hear in media or over the internet.
Educate about what to do if sexually harassed or degraded: Many young children and teens have no idea what measures to take when they are faced with harassment and/or sexist comments. Help them develop strategies to follow for when they are faced with any sort of harassment.
Encourage and expect upstanding: Do not just teach your child about what they should do, but also encourage them to stand up for when anyone else is being harassed. Young people are always in a better position than adults in preventing their peers from harassing someone or meting out sexist comments.
Provide multiple sources of recognition and self-worth: It is important to have sense of self-worth in order to prevent the harmful effects of sexism in school. Those with a low sense of self-worth are more susceptible and vulnerable to harassment. Help your children build confidence in self without the need to seek approval from others or their peer group.
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