talk about it
Have one-on-one conversations about which of our values contribute to sexual violence and which values prevent it.
We can talk about:
Healthy relationships and sexuality with our youth, and have these conversations early on and often;
Why phrases like "boys will be boys" and "you throw like a girl" are harmful;
The impact of violence shown on television and video games with kids; and
How sexual violence affects our community.
The phrase "boys will be boys" has occasionally been used by individuals and in communities to downplay, ignore or excuse disrespectful and, at times, abusive behavior of some boys and men. Brushing such behaviors aside as stereotypical behavior of boys sends a message to boys and girls that it is okay for boys to be aggressive, violent and abusive, and our use of that phrase encourages that negative behavior to continue. Healthy masculinity incorporates respect, empathy and compassion rather than aggressive, violent behavior. Check out Coaching Boys into Men, a program that focuses on the mentor role of coaches to their athletes and equips high school athletic coaches with the resources they need to promote respectful behavior among their players and help prevent relationship abuse, harassment, and sexual assault.
We can start preventing violence by changing the language we use. Comments such as “you throw like a girl” insinuate that the worst thing a boy or man can be is feminine. Seeing females as “less than” males promotes a culture of gender inequality where violence against women is more likely to occur. Language is powerful; we risk hurting others more easily when we devalue who they are.