I am appreciative for shows like "13 Reasons Why". This show really puts into perspective the challenges our teens are facing. A lot of our teens are dealing with sexual assault, self-harm, suicide, cyberbullying, depression, poor self image, parent/child conflict, etc. I've spent most of my professional career working with adolescents and you'd be surprise with the battles they face.
What am I seeing as a teen therapist and mentor?
I am seeing more teens speak out about the "rape culture" in their schools and feeling unheard by their parents, peers and educators. (I spent a lot of time educating my girls about sexual assault and trauma).
I am seeing more boys disrespecting girls' bodies and saying cruel things to her when she says "NO!". (The boys are saying inappropriate sexual comments in schools, sending nudes with hopes of getting nudes in return, attempting to "hook up" with teen girls
at these parties, etc.)
I am seeing a lot of underreported sexual assault cases. If you've seen 13 Reasons Why, then you are probably wondering why Hannah or Jessica did not speak up about being rape. There is still this belief that no one will believe them and there's a lot of self blame that occurs.
I recently wrote a blog about How Trauma is Affecting Our Black Girls which lays out some of her symptoms she may be presenting with and strategies to help teen girls heal.
What can we teach our teen boys about sexual assault?
1. Provide training and education on sexual assault.
It's important for adolescent boys to have psycho-education on sexual assault. From the definition, statistics, symptoms, intervention and resources.
2. Teach them how to respect girls' bodies.
It's important for adolescent boys to understand what it means to respect a girl's body and treat her with dignity and respect.
3. "No" means "No".
It's important for adolescent boys to know what consent means. If she is silent, that also means NO!. If she is under the influence, it is important to protect her and not take advantage of her.
4. Teach them how to advocate for other girls.
It's important for adolescent boys to get involved in community efforts that are raising awareness on violence against women and girls. In addition, it's imperative for boys to speak up for girls and challenge their male peers who are insulting and humiliating young girls.
It takes a village to raise teens, so let's continue to build on their strengths, affirm them and teach the how to create healthy spaces for one another.
It's Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so I will be sharing plenty of information over the next few weeks.