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Posts matching: sex
  • Two new books for tweens explore the little-discussed but widespread problem of sexual harassment in middle school.

    The rise of the #MeToo movement in 2017 brought much-needed attention to the widespread problem of sexual harassment of adult women. There has been little discussion, however, about the harassment of tween and teen girls by their peers, and how the way we respond to that harassment shapes what girls and boys think is socially acceptable. With a nationwide study finding that 56% of girls in grades 7 to 12 report experiencing sexual harassment at school, authors have recently began to explore this important topic in their works for middle grade readers. And, whether read together at home or at a book club or in a classroom, such books provide an excellent opportunity for parents and educators to start timely and essential conversations about harassment and boundaries with tween girls and boys.  Continue reading Continue reading

  • 56% of girls say they have been sexually harassed at school, but little is being done to help them and 79% of schools claim there were zero incidents of sexual harassment during the entire school year.

    For many women, their first experience with sexual harassment doesn't happen in college or at a job: it happens when they are schoolgirls. Among girls in grades 7 to 12, one national study found that 56% of experienced sexual harassment at school, and the impact of this harassment on girls' well-being was often substantial with 22% reporting trouble sleeping and 37% not wanting to go to school as a result. Adults are sometimes hesitant to talk about this topic in middle school, but there's increasing evidence that these discussions about boundaries, respect, and consent can pay off in unexpected ways. "Sexual and gender-based harassment can be difficult subjects to broach, but abuse thrives on silence," writes Dr. Jasmine D. Williams, a research scientist at the Committee for Children. "By taking harassment seriously, educators and families help empower students to address [these] issues." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Nadia Murad has become a global champion for girls and women.

    Nadia Murad, the courageous Yazidi woman who escaped sexual enslavement by ISIS and went on to become a global champion for girls and women affected by violence, has just been awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize! Murad was only 21 when her village was attacked by ISIS fighters in 2014 and she was forced into slavery. She spent months suffering rape, abuse, and violence before successfully escaping. Since that time, she has devoted herself to speaking on behalf of the Yazidi women still in captivity, as well as other girls and women who are victims of violence worldwide. "All those who commit the crimes of human trafficking and genocide must be brought to justice so that women and children can live in peace," asserts the 25-year-old activist. "These crimes against women and their freedom must be brought to an end today." Continue reading Continue reading

  • "We all have a responsibility to raise boys and girls who treat every person with equal respect and dignity.”

    No matter how much we try to protect them, kids regularly encounter sexist and objectifying language and behavior at school, online, watching television, or even just walking down the street. Even kids who haven't encountered sexual harassment personally have likely heard about the widespread problem at school or in the media. While it’s important to talk to all children about this topic, the issue is particularly important for girls. “This kind of objectifying talk... raises girls to believe that their bodies are literally up for grabs — that their appearance is the most valuable asset they have,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald. Fortunately, while this topic can be a challenging one, the Girl Scouts have offered four great tips to parents on how to talk to kids in an age appropriate way about sexual harassment: what it is, why it’s wrong, and what each of us can do to help put an end to it. Continue reading Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl's top picks of books for parents on raising a Mighty Girl from the toddler through the teen years.

    Parenting is always an adventure, but parenting a Mighty Girl can often seem particularly challenging: in a time when girls and their parents receive so many conflicting messages about what it is to be a girl, it's hard to know how to guide them to becoming confident, capable women. From the sexualization of increasingly younger girls to the new world of social media to old problems like bullying in the school yard, there are many challenges to growing up —  and parenting —  in today's world. Continue reading Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl's top picks of books for young children about their bodies, body privacy, appropriate touch, and more.

    Since the moment someone said, “It’s a girl” or “It’s a boy”, sex has been part of your child’s life. And while there has been at least one highly publicized (and debated) effort to raise a baby without gender, the truth is that, sooner or later, every child will notice how their body is the same, or different, from other bodies. But while conversations about bodies and sex can be awkward for parents, they’re important even for a preschooler or elementary aged child.

    There are many reasons why you should start talking to kids about sex and bodies in age-appropriate ways. One is to take the mystery away from genitalia: if you cheerfully label “ear”, “arm”, and “knee” but refer vaguely to “private parts” or use euphemisms, children may think that there is something wrong, dangerous, or scary about this part of their bodies. Another is to give your child clear language for health issues: if your child says she is “itchy down there” after a summer day trip, a care provider may be looking for poison ivy and not a yeast infection from a wet bathing suit.

    Equally importantly is preparing your child to talk about puberty (which we discuss in the second part of this blog, Talking with Tweens and Teens about their Bodies) “Puberty!?” I can hear you thinking. “She’s only 5!” And yet approximately 25% of girls experience breast budding, the first stage of puberty, at age 8 or 9 — third grade — and her first period will generally follow two to three years after the appearance of breast buds. If the girl in your life is an early bloomer, she may experience these changes before you are expecting them. But if you have been open and forthcoming with information about her body in the past, she will know that she can approach you with her questions. Continue reading Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl's top picks of books for tween and teen girls about puberty, sexuality, and their changing bodies.

    You knew it would happen one of these days: your daughter is a tween. Maybe you just realized that she’s looking eye-to-eye with you, or perhaps you’re seeing breast budding or other early signs of puberty. Or, your daughter is a teen, and while she thinks she knows everything about her changing body, you want to make sure that she has accurate information and good resources to consult.

    Fortunately, in this post, we have many great books to recommend for both tweens and teens — in addition to numerous helpful resources for parents themselves. If your Mighty Girl is a bit younger, check out our previous post on Body Smart, Body Safe: Talking with Younger Girls about their Bodies for resources for preschoolers and younger elementary students. You can also learn about our recommendations on menstruation-related resources in our post Teaching Your Mighty Girl About Her Menstrual Cycle.

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  • Sex-abuse prevention educators say teaching kids accurate terms for their private parts is an important part of protecting them from abuse.

    Would you be startled if your daughter came home from school talking about her vulva? Sex educators — including sex-abuse prevention educators — hope that she will. In fact, many experts argue that there are plenty of good reasons to teach young children accurate terminology for their genitals rather than euphemisms or colloquialisms.

    As Laura Palumbo, a prevention specialist with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, points out, “teaching children anatomically correct terms, age-appropriately, promotes positive body image, self confidence, and parent-child communication; discourages perpetrators; and, in the event of abuse, helps children and adults navigate the disclosure and forensic interview process." However, people who use these terms often get pushback: everything from parents filing complaints against teachers to politicians getting banned from their state house floor. In The Atlantic, writer Catherine Buni talked to front-line educators as well as psychology researchers to hear why anatomical terminology is important for kids to learn from a young age. Continue reading Continue reading

  • "As her father, you have the power to make certain she knows your love is steadfast."

    While many parenting articles focused on girls' physical and sexual development are directed toward mothers, psychoanalyst Joyce McFadden asserts that fathers have an important role to play in supporting their daughters' healthy development at all ages. In particular, she says that fathers have a major influence in "three hugely important facets of how she'll see herself in the world throughout her life," specifically, in "her level of personal confidence, her body comfort and pride, and [her] expectations for the way she should be treated by boys and men." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Many girls interviewed wanted more guidance on what to do if someone harasses them with requests for explicit photos.

    A recent study has shown just how common it is for teen boys to coerce or threaten girls into sending nude pictures: an analysis of 500 accounts from 12- to 18-year-old girls about negative experiences sexting found that two-thirds of them had been asked to provide explicit images — and that the requests often progressed from promises of affection to "anger displays, harassment and threats." In an article discussing the study in The New York Times, psychologist Lisa Damour writes, "Teenagers are drafted into a sexual culture that rests on a harmful premise: on the heterosexual field, boys typically play offense and girls play defense… Most schools and many parents already tell teenagers not to send sexualized selfies. But why don't we also tell adolescents to stop asking for nude photos from one another?"  Continue reading Continue reading

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