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Teaching Our Kids to Protect and Respect Themselves and Others

Warning: This post is a tad rambling and rantish. I see it as an important issue though and something that struck home since I have kids.

As I look at my daughter and son, I see their innocence. I see a couple of adorable, silly and loud kids that will one day be teenagers and eventually grow up to be adults. I joke that my job is to keep them alive each day and protect them from each other, but I have an even bigger task ahead of me.

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I need to do my best to teach them how to conduct themselves appropriately in society. No, this job doesn’t rest only on a mother’s shoulders, it is Dad’s responsibility to model and teach kids too.

A Parent’s Job


It is OUR job as parents to raise our children so they respect themselves and others. Have you been following the Steubenville rape case? I read the judge’s ruling, have heard people voicing their sympathies for the rapists, and various opinions about this situation.

As a mom of a boy and a girl, my heart aches and my blood boils.

I look at my daughter, my beautiful daughter, and know I need to teach her how to respect herself and not be taken advantage of by others. Nor should she think it’s okay to do that to anyone else. I have to teach her not to get raped.

I look at my son, my handsome son, and know I need to teach him how to respect others, especially those he wants an intimate relationship with. He needs to be taught that just because he is a man he cannot take advantage of others for his own enjoyment. I have to teach him not to rape others.

Wait – what? I have to teach them to NOT rape people? That seems absurd when you say it out loud, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, until perpetrators stop being victimized and the victims stop being blamed… that’s just how we may have to teach it.

But it’s not just the parents’ job – it is society’s job to recognize that rape is never okay. 

Kids do stupid things, yes. I did stupid things and made mistakes in high school – like getting too drunk at parties – but no one was getting raped. I didn’t always hang out with the best crowd. Sure, there was peer pressure. I did things I felt pressured to do but thank goodness I was never forced. Ever.

And when things did get out of hand? Someone always spoke up and put it in check. There wasn’t an audience sitting by laughing and filming it.

One of the boys addressed the court after he was found guilty of rape:

Mays apologized to the families involved.

“No pictures should have been sent out, let alone been taken,” he said.

How about you shouldn’t have been violating her sexually? How about that? The other kid said something caught on camera about how he felt the need for sexual action? Um, that’s no excuse. Stick it in a sock or a fruit pie – not an unconscious drunk girl.

So how do you prevent this from happening?

We have to teach our children morals, values and responsibility.

No hitting.

No kicking.

No biting.

No spitting.

Do not harm others.

Be respectful.

Be kind.

Protect yourself.

Protect others.

Do not touch others without their consent.


Self control.

Anger management.

Strength – to go against the crowd.

And that’s just off the top of my head.

Teaching our children to think about others and not just about themselves and their needs is only half the battle. They do have to implement it, but teaching, modeling behavior and openly discussing things such as what is informed consent will go a long way in preventing this kind of situation.

Hormones and emotions and urges can be strong and confusing, but our kids won’t know how to handle them without some instructions. Talk to them about how to  appropriately express those needs.

It’s about girls AND boys

We focus a lot on teaching girls how to be cautious and prevent being taken advantage of, but where’s the boy’s responsibility in this? They should be taught not to rape just as much as a girl is taught to avoid or prevent being raped. (Language warning on that link)  Prevention only takes us so far…. people shouldn’t be trying to over power other and take advantage of them either.

This should not happen.

This is never okay.

Does this case affect how you will address these kinds of issues with your kids?


Thursday 21st of March 2013

Great post! But. I disagree with your line about your daughter: "I have to teach her not to be raped." No. You do not. As you mention next, you do need to teach your son not to rape, that is, to respect women. Everyone needs to teach this to their sons. The minute we say that we need to teach our daughters, we are placing the blame on the victim. I agree that we need to teach our daughters to respect themselve, but teach them not to get raped? No ma'am. A woman can be cautious, certainly, but, ultimately, the fault lies in the hands of the rapist. 100%.

Darcy Zalewski

Wednesday 27th of March 2013

Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I apologize for the delay in my response.

I agree that we do not/should not have to teach our daughters not to be raped. I was trying to illustrate how ridiculous that sounds because that's the type of culture that has developed over the years. I want people to see that and say no, that's not right. We should not have to teach her that.


Thursday 21st of March 2013

Bloody darn tootin! If no one teaches the kids then they will only be able to learn from experience...and that can be extremely painful, and not just for them. And by the time they learn...they may be serving a prison sentence...or worse.

Darcy Zalewski

Wednesday 27th of March 2013

It's really sad that we even have to SAY these things need to be taught. I don't know why respect has diminished so much.


Wednesday 20th of March 2013

I think part of the problem starts with just talk. You wouldn't believe what the kids are just talking about at the high school these days. If the boys and girls both participate in such talk then the boys start to think that the girls are ok with things such as rape, casual relationships, violence, etc. I find myself talking to my three kids all the time about what is appropriate to DO and SAY.

Darcy Zalewski

Wednesday 27th of March 2013

I honestly don't know how most are talking these days but I can only imagine how that feeds into the problem.