Talk to a Teen to Prevent Sexual Violence
Tips from Cleveland Rape Crisis Center
The most important thing you can say:
“If anyone ever has or anyone ever does hurt you, you can talk to me.”
What NOT to say: “If anyone ever hurts you, I’m going to __________________ them.”
Don’t assume they have not been hurt by sexual violence before. Leave the door open for your teen to talk about past circumstances if they haven’t already shared with you.
Most teenagers are coerced or forced to have sex by someone they know, trust and possibly love. They may be concerned about the other person getting in trouble or even worried about you getting in trouble if you harm someone else.
A survivor of sexual violence wants to be believed and supported; they are not necessarily looking to punish the person who harmed them. Survivors want to know that you have their back. Focus your attention on what your teen needs, not on the offender.
Tips for Talking to your Teen about Sexual Violence
Talk to your teen about sex early. Talk often. Give your child the facts about sex, sexual coercion and assault before he or she obtains misinformation from peers. Start talking long before your teen begins dating.
It is never too late to start the conversation. Young women are at the most risk for sexual assault between the ages of 16 and 24.
Remember that teens are craving factual information about sex from someone they trust – even if they act like they don’t want to talk to you.
Talk to them when you can both be as attentive as possible. The car may be a good place.
Don’t make it a joke. Rape is not funny – EVER. Don’t skirt the issue by sandwiching this message between playful topics. Sexual violence is a serious issue and should be handled that way. If you approach it as a joke, your teen will too.
Use media stories to start the conversation. “What do you think about the XYZ news story? What are you hearing about this at school? What do you think about it? It is easier for them to open up about what other people think first. Then, you can share your message: “If anyone ever has anyone ever does hurt you, you can talk to me.”