A list of parenting action items, created in the hope that we can raise a generation of children who have less rape and sexual assault in their lives. The ongoing horror of rape in the news, from Penn State to the young women raped and killed in India to Steubenville, has proven to be a wake-up call for many parents. We always knew that rape was a problem, but never before have we been so mobilized to create change. As writers, educators, and advocates of sex-positivity and healthy consent, the four of us have been inundated with requests from parents for advice on how to help create a future with less rape and sexual assault. We believe parents can start educating children about consent and empowerment as early as 1 year old and continuing into the college years. It is our sincere hope that this education can help us raise empowered young adults who have empathy for others and a clear understanding of healthy consent.
Give up on the idea of presenting the subject in one big talk -- you'll overwhelm your child with more bewildering and even distasteful information than she can process at once. Instead, think of it as a gentle conversation that will take place over several months or perhaps even years. Keep your explanations as simple and specific to the discussion as you can. A 6-year-old wondering what "birth control" means is not necessarily asking you to delineate the mechanics of intercourse. The hardest part, of course, is staying composed. Try to respond to your child's initial question without turning red or acting as though some momentous exchange is taking place; such a response might unnerve her or suggest that sex is linked to feelings of shame.
Recently something unexpected, but groundbreaking caught people's attention: As of spring , Playboy magazine -- the publication that titillated men and adolescent boys for decades -- will no longer publish the nude and semi-nude photos of women that made it famous. But we had a different reaction. As a culture, we have become desensitized to sex and violence due in large part to the ubiquitous portrayal of sexual violence in video games, movies and media. Thanks to the Internet, pornography that was once hidden in the back rooms of video stores, available only in sketchy areas of town, or hastily stuffed under mattresses became readily accessible around the clock, and today pornography is consumed by the masses.
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