"Mommy, what's sexual harassment?" Have you gotten this question yet? With all the accusations in the daily news reports it wouldn't be surprising.
With very young kids there is no reason to talk about it unless they bring it up. But be prepared in case they do. Here are some tips to help you broach the subject.
Ask questions. "Where did you hear that?," "What do you think it is?," or "How did it make you feel to hear that?"
Watch your tone and be reassuring. Kids can sense if you are upset or angry. Be sure to let your children know you aren't mad at them. Try saying something like: "I love when you come to me with your questions and it's OK to ask or tell me anything even if you think it's something bad."
Keep it simple. There is no need to over-explain to young children. You want to satisfy their curiosity though and use terms they can understand. Try saying something like, "Harassment is a fancy word for bullying. Sexual harassment is when someone talks about or touches someone else's body or private parts without asking permission."
If you can, keep the news turned off when young kids are listening or watching. Even if you do this though, it's possible they may still hear about it somewhere. It's important to be open and honest with your children and to also know when it is appropriate to use moments like these as "teachable moments" with a bit older kids.
Talk about how your children can protect themselves and others. Empower your children and let them know it is up to them to decide who can touch them. That it is not OK for someone to talk about their body or touch their body if it makes them feel uncomfortable. They should tell them to stop and tell the adult in charge.
Explain also that they must respect other people's bodies. It's not OK to ever touch someone else's body without asking permission, especially private parts.
To help I filmed the video above to watch with your children 9 or older. You can watch it together or watch yourself to help with more scripting if you are feeling challenged explaining this subject to your pre-teens. I hope it helps.
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