Friday, 9 January 2015

Teaching Children Not to Rape

People who know my blog will understand why sexual body safety, rape and little children are a big concern of mine. My journey as a survivor began when I was 3 years old. By the time I got to late primary school where our "sex education", such as it was, began, it was too late for me.

I strongly believe that the foundations of good sexual behaviour in later life need to be built early on. Not in a frightening, salacious way, in a way that is calm, measured and well thought out. 

I strongly believe there is only one set of people who, at the end of the day, are responsible for ensuring the safety of their children, and that's their primary caregivers. Parents, most usually or guardians. We can't rely on the school system, on the media, on others. It's our job.

And safety isn't just teaching children about their body, it's teaching about other bodies, and about who has rights to those bodies.

We have to teach our children not to rape. 

It isn't "sad". It's a fact. We teach our children not to steal, not to murder, to be good people. We have to teach them not to rape. Starting at 17, the age of consent, is way too late. Hands up those who waited til the age of consent to be sexually active (I did but I believe I'm not the norm)

Rapists aren't slimy creatures that live in drains like mutant turtles. Rapists are people who can't control their urges, who think sex is their right, who make errors of judgement, get caught in a moment and can't escape from it. Rape once you are a rapist, rape 100 times you are a rapist. A rapist  might be a person who is generally "a good person", perhaps a person who gets drunk or high, who gets caught in the wrong crowd, who loses their inhibitions due to drugs or peer pressure, it could be a one off incident in an otherwise non violent sexual career.

This is no way whatsoever rape apology. Not at all.

As parents and caregivers we have to get inside the mind of a rapist to ensure the children we love and care for understand, and understand not to rape.

The easiest things to teach are this.

Body Safety

The PANTS rule.

This is a tool developed b the NSPCC. I do this at home but also in public. Our GP surgery has the leaflets in reception and we chat about it there. The PANTS rule is not at all confronting or scary.

  • Privates are private
  • Always remember your body belongs to you
  • No means no
  • Talk about secrets that upset you
  • Speak up, someone can help
Consent and keeping other bodies safe

You can extend the PANTS rule to ensure that children know that this truth exists for everyone. That as their privacy and consent is to be respected, they are in turn to extend the same rule to others.

I think "no" needs to go further. To ensure a child does not become an adult who rapes they need to be aware of active consent. That the person they choose to be intimate with has actively engaged in the process to move forward they have not been cajoled or coerced, and that they have the presence of mind to do this, i.e. are not under the influence of a substance or person etc.

We need to get rid of  the fairy tale of sex.That our children are going to fall in love and have sex with someone they are deeply committed to.

In reality our children at 5 may only be 10 years away from having sex. The time to start is as early as possible.

You don't have to mention or talk about actual sex until much later, but the sooner you start building the scaffolding, the stronger your structure will become.

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