Talking to teens about sexual harassment

- Stories about sexual misconduct, harassment and assault have been dominating headlines, and that raises questions about how to discuss all of this with children. 

Perception or reality it certainly seems like sexual harassment allegations are at an all-time high and with that how people, particularly young people are being prepared for it has changed. Mariandl Huffod of the Agnes Irwin School says it’s very different than during her teen and college years

"People would sort of look at it as if you should be flattered as a woman that a man was making unwanted advances those are not the conversations I'm having with my daughter and I know she would be able to stand up and speak out," said Huffod.

This time the news was about Matt Lauer but he's not the first and likely won't be the last. Because of that, parents across the country are faced with the challenge of when and if they should be having these conversations with their children.  Something Ms Hufford says they do at Agnes Irwin.

"We give girls from a very young age the tools they need to grapple with and deal with the privacy of their own selves mentally and physically," Hufford explained.

Mariandl Hufford is in an interesting position. As Assistant Director of the Agnes Irwin School, she prepares young women to deal with society.

But as a parent of a teen daughter she also has the challenge of how much of these discussions are better left at home.

"I think it needs to be happening in schools as well as at home. It’s important for schools to partner with parents so we're speaking the same language,” explained Hufford.

Dr. Taliba Foster is another person preparing young people to deal with sexual harassment on several fronts, as a therapist but also as a parent.

"It’s not new. I've been hearing it for many, many years, I think it's the first time the public is hearing it and it's the first time the Golden boys are getting caught," said Foster.

So what she's been hearing from patients for years as a therapist is now fairly common knowledge that parents are forced to deal with and she admits the necessary conversations are sad.

"Never go into a room that could potentially compromise someone unless you have a witness there to say everything was ok.  It’s very sad but its sad people are doing this to people too," Foster said.

But even in the darkest of situations, Dr. Taliba believes this painful time can ultimately improve society.

"What’s happened is people are starting to question if that person next door may actually be someone we don't know he is and that girl, that child or that man could've actually been right," Foster explained.

So as hard as it may be, experts say have the difficult conversations with your kids and provide them the tools to cope. For goodness sake.

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