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How To Talk To Children About Sexual Harassment

December 5, 2017 1:15 p.m.

How To Talk To Children About Sexual Harassment


Eunice Kim, clinical psychologist

Related Story: How To Talk To Children About Sexual Harassment


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

You can seem to turn the TV or pick up your phone without hearing about another powerful man being accused of sexual harassment. The wave of sexual misconduct allegations as some parents wondering how they should approach the topic with her children and what any ages too early and joining me with some advices clinical psychologist Eunice Kim founder of the Center for mental illness. Eunice will go to the program.Thank you.Question about age, at what age our children mentally developed enough to understand the basics of sexual harassment?Well kids as young as two years old, they start to label their body parts and even at that age him if he cannot teach them the concept of sexual harassment even at that age you can teach them about the boundaries related to your body and other people's bodies. So even a two-year-old, giving them a bath, they will say look mommy, it is my this or that, and you say -- you don't have to say it every time but you can say to them yes, that is right and only mommy and daddy get to see that. Or along those lines. So you can start teaching the boundaries about what is okay and what is not okay to see or touch as young as two years old when they start to have those words.One of the aspects of course of sexual harassment is not just physical aspect, it is the verbal aspect and things that people say and maybe in the workplace that are demeaning or cross husbandry light so how would you approach the subject with children as they are getting older and less about the physical aspect about it and more about the verbal the thoughts about power dynamics?I would say that happens closer to when they are teenagers. At that point it is still going to be somewhat related to the boys being physically bigger and stronger. The boys are not the bosses or the employers yet but you can start teaching them at that age that you are bigger, your stronger and it is not okay to make anyone male or female do anything, look at anything, touch anything that they do not want to see touch, or etc.The terms, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, they are really legalistic terms, they are probably pretty confusing for children. Do you have any tips or recommendations for how to just describe what this concept is to younger children?That will depend on the age. If a seven-year-old here's those words on the TV and ask mommy, what is sexual harassment mean? Then you have to explain it in a fairly basic way. Means that someone who had more power made someone else do something, look at something or touch a body part, that they did not want to. As the kids get older, you can explain that someone in power for someone to do something or see something that they did not want to and they threatened to take away whatever they had as a person in power.To those conversations defer based on the gender of the child?I don't actually think that they should because the lesson needs to be taught, it is the same lesson for men and women. Men need to understand that actual harassment is not okay. The same way that women need to understand idea. I mean, there are differences that women may need to be told to speak up, and talk about what is happened to them. That part may need to be besides more often with girls. That if they are ever forced to do anything they want to do or see anything they didn't want to see, then it is very important that they speak a. So that part needs to be empathized. In with the boys the fact that they are physically stronger and that they cannot take advantage of that part, that parties be of sight but the idea of sexual harassment and misconduct and teaching that lesson, as you teach other concepts of right and wrong, I think that part should be the same. You teach at the same way you would teach boys and girls equally, you don't steal, you don't bully,.If you are parent was dreading having this conversation maybe because you have ignored for years, you do not have it when they were younger and now they are 13, 15, how should they be preparing for it?Well [Laughter] is going to be at age 13-15, it is going to be awkward. Regardless. And if you can just sort of except that it is going to be a little bit awkward, then you just kind of go through it. Right? So if you are parent that is in touch, you know whether or not your child is interested in the opposite sex, you know whether or not they are hanging out with gives of the opposite sex and asked them, casual question, would you guys going to do? Where you guys hanging out? And then you ask things like you're being respectful, right? And then they say yes, of course and you say, well do you know what I mean by respectful? Most likely answer is no and then you say, well, it is really important. You don't ever when you're hanging out with girls again if you're talking to a boy if you're in a with girls, it is really important that you never make a girl see, touch or do anything that they don't want to do and you know at that point, the child is probably going to mom, then want to have the conversation. But you except that it is going to be awkward and then you just move forward with that.Which appears to if they suspect that their child is a harasser based on some of the answers may be that they heard in the conversation? Which is a follow-up be?The follow-up should be we need to have a talk about why that is not okay. About why you cannot use your power, whether it is just physical power, to make someone, again, male or female or anyone smaller, less powerful than you, why it is not okay to make someone do something they don't want to do. Or to threaten them. And then depending on how concerned the parents were, I would probably take them into see a therapist, someone professional, who will get the child to open up more and talk about why the kid thought it was okay or what circumstances surrounded it.I have been speaking with clinical psychologist Eunice Kim founder of the center for mental wellness and thank you so much.You're welcome, thank you.