I’ve been so upset reading comments and articles over the past number of days, about the recent Belfast rape trial – where 4 men were found not guilty to various charges. Now, I must add here, that I’m not very outspoken about current affairs, news items and politics and feel mostly that my opinions are my own and private, I don’t generally share them in social media.
However on this occasion, I’ve been so upset but also so moved that I feel the need to write something… In particular to see what we can learn and teach our kids and teens. On the topic of rape and consent this is what I’ve come up with:
- CONSENT: Consent is a very important topic and one which we need to engage our kids/teenagers in as soon as they learn about sex. Click here to read more from a recent article about consent published by the Independent called ‘Why its time to talk about consent’.
- AT HOME: If the schools are not discussing it, we need to make sure we discuss it at home. I think this topic should be discussed by both parents (where possible)- it needs to be driven home for our girls and our boys.
- RESPECT: Respect for our bodies and respect for other peoples bodies is at the heart of this conversation. Listening and understanding when someone is saying no.. no matter what you feel, no matter how frustrating it may be. Here is a good video I shared on facebook called ‘Consent and Tea’ – its perfect for teenagers. Click here to see it.
- RAISE GENTLEMEN: I feel its very unfair that girls/women have to be the ones that abide by a very long list of rules – do’s and don’ts – in order to stay safe. (Another news article here on 2-tiered morals by Martina Devlin) We as a society, as parents, need to ensure that the men we are raring, know that females are equal to them, no matter what they wear, how they look, what they do or say, how provocative they may be. We must ensure that our boys are groomed to be gentlemen (I don’t care if that sounds old fashioned!). They should be good friends to their female friends or acquaintances, all looking out for each other, kind and helpful. I know skirts are getting shorter and young teens can look very grown up and attractive from a young age…. but we are still the parents. We can allow things or not… we can educate them, debate and discuss at home. We can instill morals in our headstrong teenagers.
- SPEAK UP: In an ideal world there would be equality and respect and no need to write about this. Unfortunately, we all know there are people out there that don’t have those morals… yes it should be easier to convict a rapist – but our girls (and boys) should be encouraged to speak up of any wrong doing – from an early age. None of us want to be the parents of a daughter (or son) who comes home with a story of rape, abuse, mistreatment. The only thing that is worse, is them suffering in silence and not telling, or talking about it due to fear, shame or embarrassment. Making the topic an open one, where you can talk freely, even if you disagree, makes it a topic that can be always discussed.
- SOCIAL MEDIA: There are so many problems coming from the use of social media. We know we have to educate our kids/teens to be very careful what they post and share with others. To use the same respect they would use if the person were standing in front of them, not to feel they can be brave or bold just because they are hiding behind the screen.
- GO WITH YOUR GUT: When coaching teenagers and discussing nights out, drinking etc. I help them to understand their instincts (as opposed to their worries or anxieties in their head) – If something feels wrong it probably is. If they are not getting a good vibe, get out of there. Listen to you gut instincts and don’t ignore it. If you get a bad feeling about a place or someone… get away and stay away.
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The Confidence Clinic – life coaching for kids and teens.
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