Positive Parenting

Positive Parenting: Having 'The Talk'

It's one of those subjects that some parents may find super awkward to discuss with their kids, but experts say healthy attitudes toward romantic relationships and sex are fostered early on. 

A new study by the Harvard University project Making Caring Common found "the talk" about sex and respect often doesn't happen. 

Almost every week there's a new report of a high-profile person accused of sexual harassment. 

Harvard child psychologist Rick Weissbourd studies attitudes toward sex and sexual harassment. His team surveyed 3,000 students age 18 to 25 from diverse backgrounds. Researchers found 87 percent had experienced cat calls, unwanted advanced or name-calling and when it comes to sexual harassment, there's a disconnect.

“In our research, a lot of boys think cat calling is flattering to girls. A lot of girls say it’s offensive to them, and frightening to them,” said Weissbourd. 

The researchers also found 75 percent of the young women they surveyed did not discuss sexual harassment with parents or teachers.

“This is something that is pervasive, more pervasive than bullying and we’re not talking about it,” said Weissbourd.

Weissbourd says parents need to define sexual harassment for their kids. Use popular media to start the talk. If a song comes on the radio with degrading lyrics, talk about the negative impacts of those terms. If there's a misogynistic scenario played out on TV, call attention to it. Explain it's not something to joke about with peers. 

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