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Have the Talk — and Say More

Resources from Making Caring Common show how adults can (and should) help young people form healthy relationships, reduce misogyny, and prevent harassment
Have the Talk — and Say More

When Making Caring Common released a landmark report on sexual harassment last year — a report that intentionally coupled healthy relationships with prevention of misogyny and harassment — the researchers wanted to fill a critical gap in our response to the epidemic of sexual assault. The report found that despite alarmingly high rates of assault and harassment in schools and workplaces, most parents and educators were not talking to young people about any of it — about how to form a healthy relationship, how to understand consent, and how to avoid doing harm to themselves and others.

But such conversations are sorely needed, the report found. “Parents, caregivers, and educators are our first line of defense in preventing misogyny and sexual harassment, and in raising our children — our boys in particular — to clearly understand and take seriously sexual assault and consent,” said Making Caring Common’s director, Richard Weissbourd, in an email earlier this year. “Whether you are raising children or teaching children, these conversations can make an immeasurable and lasting difference in their lives.”

Weissbourd and his Making Caring Common (MCC) team have pulled together resources to help guide parents, caregivers, and educators in having these difficult conversations with young people. They also created an audit for educators, which they say is a key first step for schools that want to take a closer look at how they do — or do not — promote students' healthy relationships and prevent misogyny, harassment, and assault.

The report also contains information about the state of sex education in the United States, data on rates of sexual assault, and progress on gender roles and expectations. Read it in full here: The Talk: How Adults Can Promote Young People’s Healthy Relationships and Prevent Misogyny and Sexual Harassment. And read the executive summary of the findings here [PDF].

Resources for Parents

Misogyny and sexual harassment are commonplace in young people’s lives, and yet Making Caring Common has found that most parents are failing to adequately address these topics. Try these approaches:

Practice MCC’s 6 Tips for Parents: Reducing and Preventing Misogyny and Sexual Harassment Among Teens and Young Adults. Given the prevalence of sexually degrading and harassing behavior in young people’s lives, conversations about misogyny and sexual harassment are critical — and it’s vital that parents go beyond platitudes like “be respectful.” 

Practice MCC’s 5 Tips for Parents: Guiding Teens and Young Adults in Developing Healthy Romantic Relationships. How can we as parents prepare our teens and young adults to develop healthy, caring romantic relationships? We can have frank, wonderful conversations with young people — even if we don’t have all the answers — that powerfully guide them, greatly enrich our relationships with them, and help us understand and develop skills in our own romantic relationships.

Access more Resources for Parents. From tips to conversations starters, access more resources to support you at home.

Resources for Educators

Rates of sexual harassment and various forms of misogyny are high in schools, yet often they’re not addressed adequately. Try these approaches:

Use MCC’s Audit for Educators. The audit helps educators reflect on the policies and practices of their school related to young people’s healthy romantic relationships, misogyny and sexual harassment, and assault. It is intended to help you answer these questions: Are we doing what is needed to prevent harassment and promote healthy relationships? What more could we do?

Practice MCC’s Scenarios for Educators. Many teachers have heard or seen students saying things that are misogynistic, objectifying, insensitive, or disrespectful based on gender, sexuality, or sexual orientation. Because these comments may catch us off guard and are often sensitive in nature, many adults struggle to know what to say in the moment. By thinking through and practicing our responses in advance, we can be prepared the next time we hear these comments in our schools.

Access more Resources for Educators. From toolkits to classroom tools to online courses, access additional resources to support you in a school setting.

Watch a free webinar (which may fulfill one hour of PD credit) from Share My Lesson and the NBC Parent Toolkit exploring MCC’s findings and highlighting solutions and new approaches.

Part of a special series about preventing sexual harassment at school. Read the whole series.

Illustration by Wilhelmina Peragine

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