This is a post I have wanted to write for awhile, but put on the back burner. And then this week my Facebook newsfeed blew up with the horrific story of convicted rapist Brock Turner and his appalling sentence of 6 months jail time. While I am completely distraught by another female victim being failed by the justice system I am happy that this story is getting so much press because we need to keep talking about rape culture. If we are ever going to fix this epidemic we must first come to terms with our own biases and ignorance. We must be conscious that we are raising children in a society that feeds rape culture and then we must learn how to break the cycle. I am a firm believer that ending rape culture begins with how we educate children from an early age. If we wait until middle school, high school or college we have lost. Here are 6 ways to combat Rape Culture in Early Childhood Education.
6 WAYS TO COMBAT RAPE CULTURE IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
1. Teach children body autonomy. Give children power of their bodies by using proper terminology for all body parts. Proper terminology is the first step towards feeling in control. This can begin naturally with infants as you change diapers and bathe. Teach children how their body parts work and how the body parts of the opposite sex work. You would be amazed how many teenagers still do not understand the workings of their bodies.
2. Honor children’s ability to decline physical touch. Repeat after me, never make a child feel badly that they do not want to hug someone. Children need to know that it is 100% okay to decline physical touch without anyone (especially an adult) making them feel guilty. I cannot emphasize this point enough. If we do not give children permission to say no in the early years we are creating the stepping stones for rape culture.
3. Model appropriate relationships. Children need to see adults treating each other with mutual respect, support and empathy.
4. Schools need to have ZERO TOLERANCE for name-calling, inappropriate jokes and inappropriate touching. It is not funny or cute to see a boy chasing a girl on the playground while she screams “stop”. Honor that statement. Children need to understand that school is a safe place to learn.
5. Be explicit that when a child says “stop” or “no” to another child that child needs to stop his action immediately and listen to the child’s words. If a child does not listen the message needs to be get help.
6. Teach children that they have the power to stop an activity if they are uncomfortable or no longer want to play. There are ways to teach children to be polite and honest in the same breath.
May we all come together to help this next generation of future adults not be plagued by the rape culture we have left them to deal with.