The video below is directed towards parents whose children are survivors of sexual violence. However, every parent has a role in countering rape culture and preventing sexual violence. You are the most important educator your child will ever have. Talk honestly with your children, both your daughters and your sons, about healthy relationships and the importance of respecting their partners' boundaries. You can support your children by holding their schools (not just colleges) accountable for fostering a safe environment and responding appropriately should violence occur.
Teach consent using age-appropriate language.
Using age- appropriate methods, you can foster empathy and teach your child about consent from a very young age. Nearly half of all victims of sexual violence are assaulted before the age of 18. It is important to teach children about this issue from a very early age, both to prevent them from potentially harming a peer and teaching them what to do if something were to happen to them.
- Teach your kids about "safe" and "unsafe touch"
- Ask for permission to touch others, and encourage them to ask for permission to touch others or use one of their toys
- Respect your child's body-autonomy — respect them if they ask not to be tickled, hugged, or touched
- Do not force your child to kiss or hug friends or relatives
- Use and teach the correct terms for body parts, made up terms can be confusing for children and can make it more difficult for children to communicate a violation of their body if one has occurred
- Refrain from perpetuating gendered roles of responsibility in consent. Teach children of all genders to respect others and to demand respect, and challenge the idea that "boys will be boys" or that "a boy hits you because he likes you."
Ask your child's school the tough questions.
In the context of post-secondary schools, ask critical questions of school administrators:
Does your sexual violence and harassment policy have an amnesty clause for non-violent conduct violations? (for example, if a student reports a sexual assault and was drinking, does the policy explicitly say that this student will not get in trouble with the school for consuming alcohol?)
Does the Title IX Coordinator receive annual training that is trauma-informed?
Are resources for survivors accessible online, including an online reporting option? If so, how are they publicized?
Is there mandatory prevention education on campus? Is the training given to small groups of students, or is it held in large lecture halls? Do the trainings teach students how to be active bystanders and inform them of ways to practice affirmative consent?
If your school answers any of these questions with “no” or “I’m not sure,” put pressure on the administration to make sure the answers become “yes!” This could include writing an open letter with other students or alumn in the local or student newspaper.
In the context of high school or middle school it is important to remember that Title IX applies to K-12 institutions that receive any form of federal funding. You can demand the same thing of your child's middle or high schools that you do of their colleges.
You can create a safer, more supportive environment for yourself and your children through political activism. What you ask of your senators and members of congress, and your state legislature, matters on both the federal and state level. There are many ways to reach your elected officials.
Check out our policy reform guide here.
Activism takes many forms. Supporting survivors and refusing to ignore the epidemic on our campuses is a way of standing up to the institutional indifference so many survivors have faced. By refusing to ignore sexual assault, you are engaging in activism.