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How to Talk to Your Tweens and Teens About Sexual Harassment

You might want to talk to kids younger than that, based on where your kids are in their development, their personal experiences, and their awareness of current events. But for our purposes, I’m going to focus on children and adolescents, ages nine and up.

It might feel like a daunting task, but yes, you do need to talk about what’s going on right now, because the younger generation is already either part of the problem or the solution. Here’s how to do your level best to make sure your kids are part of the solution.

teenagers photo

I used this image deliberately: Think of all that your tweens and teens are carrying around with them every day, the weight of all that they know and all that they have yet to find out. They’re breathing in the air of the current climate–of Harvey Weinstein and #metoo–and as a parent, you can turn this into an opportunity.

Always start with questions. What do they understand about what’s going on? What do they think about the accused and the accusers? Do they think it’s an isolated incident and the behavior of just one sick man, or do they get how it connects to the larger culture around sexism and sexual assault?

This last question is key. It’s about seeing how the objectification of girls and later women–of telling them that their primary value is physical and sexual–leaves them vulnerable to whatever men in power choose to do to them. It’s about decency, equality, and empathy. That’s not a women’s issue; it’s a human issue.

If we can help our kids–whether they’re male, female, or identify in some other way–to see it, they can shape it. Being able to look critically at the world is a crucial skill, and you help them to develop it by learning how they think, and then adding to their knowledge base or offering another perspective.

Work in some information, and perhaps a respectful challenge. Let them know you believe in their kindness, and their courage. Let them know that they can be a force for good.

And remember, it’s a huge topic, so this is just the start of an ongoing dialogue. If it doesn’t go well the first time, keep trying.

The world is constantly evolving, and consciousness is ever-expanding. We need to invite our kids to join the conversation and create the future.

How to Talk to Your Tweens and Teens About Sexual Harassment

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2017). How to Talk to Your Tweens and Teens About Sexual Harassment. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Oct 2017
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