11 Things Parents Can Do If You’re Fed Up with our Society’s Treatment of Violence Against Girls and Women

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Image via Pixabay

As the torrential rains and powerful winds of Tropical Storm Colin pummeled my home state, I thought how appropriate the dark skies were for the emotions women across the nation were feeling over news of the Stanford attack verdict. What does this say about our culture when an athlete can sexually assault an unconscious woman on campus, receive a unanimous guilty verdict and three felony convictions, yet receive a negligible six months in jail? We say our daughters are our “little princesses” when they are young, but what kind of value do we as a society really place on their lives as they grow up? The juxtaposition between the articulate, powerful words of the Stanford victim's impact statement, “You took away my worth …” and the callous, cruel comments of the sex offender's father, “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action …” are alarming. Perhaps you, like me, are wondering what type of a world are we raising our children in and what can we do about it?

On behalf of EverydayFamily, I would like to extend our support to the brave young woman in the Stanford attack. We grieve for your suffering at the hands of your attacker and the re-victimization you experienced in judicial proceedings with a sentence that did not match the heinous crime. We applaud you for the courage and bravery it took for you to stand up to your attacker and to raise your voice in what may truly be described as one of the most poignant, honest, and inspirational testimonies in a sexual assault case. We are outraged at the lenient sentencing in your case, but we want you to know that your words have not fallen on deaf ears.

We have heard you raise your voice and it will not be silenced. Your powerful words have resonated with people all across the country and are igniting a sea of change in the hearts and minds of families and policy makers. We thank you for standing up and we want you to know families across America are standing with you. You could be any of our daughters, nieces, sisters, mothers, aunts, grandchildren, and friends. We thank you for standing up and it is time we stand up with you. We want you to know you have inspired us to take action to keep our girls safe.

In your name and honor, we challenge readers to join us in taking a pledge, “Operation Respect”, to protect and empower our girls and young women and better protect them from violence.

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Image via Flickr/ Chad and Kellye

We vow to increase vigilance in how we raise our boys. We vow to teach them about manners, physical space, and boundaries. We vow to teach them to be respectful of their sisters, cousins, nieces, mothers, aunts, grandmas, and friends. This starts now. This starts in our homes, this extends to the playgrounds, the parks, at schools, in extracurricular activities. If we see our child or any child aggressive with another, we will speak up and stop the behavior. We vow to teach our boys to look out for others and speak up and act when someone else is in jeopardy.

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Image via Katie Hurley

We vow to praise girls for their interests, talents, courage, and the causes about which they care deeply – not their physical appearance – and to teach our boys to respect girls, not objectify girls. When we address a girl, we'll refrain from saying how “cute” she is or “what a pretty dress” she's wearing. We will ask her what she is reading, what her favorite subject is in school, and if she likes sports/music/art. We will talk together about causes. We will not complain about the size or shape of our bodies in front of girls, nor comment about others' bodies in a derogatory nature. We will teach both girls and boys not to comment about girls' bodies in disapproving or disrespectful way.

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We vow not to give our children unsupervised or excessive access to smartphones, computers, TV, video games, and other electronic devices. We acknowledge that smartphones and computers are not babysitters. Just as we would run extensive background and reference checks on a babysitter, we vow to invest the time to learn parental controls and supervise our children's online activities. We vow to let the values we impart to our children be our own, not the messages from inappropriate videos, games, peer text messaging, and social media. Likewise, we vow to screen our children's cell phone content and teach boys and girls not to ask for, or share, intimate photos of themselves. We vow to have real conversations with our kids about difficult to discuss issues such as these.

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Image via Pixabay

We vow to teach our children that nobody has more value than anyone else; not athletes, not actors, not celebrities. No one has a right to treat anyone with disrespect.

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Image via Pixabay

We vow to protect our boys and our girls from pornography. We recognize that pornographic content, such as predatory themes of sexual attacks on women, can desensitize and motivate a viewer's behavior and real life actions towards women. We vow to have serious discussions with our children and not to turn a blind eye toward forces in our society that create an unsafe environment for girls and women.

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Image via Flickr/ jenny818

We vow to supervise parties at our houses and to tell our youth they can't go to parties that are not adequately supervised, and where alcohol and/or drug abuse are possibilities. We vow to create a parent network that looks out for each others' kids and youth in our neighborhood.

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Image via Flickr/ GoonSquadSarah

We vow to teach our children kindness; not to shame others online or offline for any reason, that we all make decisions we regret, and no one ever deserves to be shamed. We vow to teach our children respect and compassion towards others. We vow to teach our kids that social media can be used more wisely for social causes and activism than for selfies, self-promotion, and popularity. We want them to understand that having true friends who care is much more important than gathering “likes” for appearance online.

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Image via Flickr/ Working Word

We vow to raise our kids to speak up and stand up to bullies, and not be afraid to “tattle” when something is going wrong or someone is in danger. We vow to teach our children to protect and look out for each other, even when it's not the popular thing to do.

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We vow to teach our kids to recognize warning signs in predators and that there is nothing about which they can't talk to us. We vow to educate youth about the dangers of human trafficking recruitment.

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We vow to put down our own phones and computers, to sit down with our families over a meal and talk and listen. We vow to take time for recreational activities together that allow time to strengthen bonds, have fun, and talk.

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Image via Pixabay

We vow to become activists and support legislation that protects our children from violence- both physical and online. We vow to educate ourselves and elect politicians who will support and stand behind legislation that cracks down hard on sexual assault, cyber-bullying, crimes against children, pornography, and human trafficking. We vow to work for stiffer sentencing guidelines and penalties.

We take these vows to keep our girls safe, in honor of the brave and courageous young woman who survived the Stanford attack and lived to tell her story and in honor of all girls and women who have suffered from sexual attacks. Let them inspire an entire generation towards advocacy for young women across the country. We stand with you and we seek to be a part of the change. There is something each of us can do in our own neighborhoods and through our own actions.

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11 Things Parents Can Do If You’re Fed Up with our Society’s Treatment of Violence Against Girls and Women

Kristen Zajac is a children’s author. Her published books include "The Veterans' Clubhouse," “Ebeneezer’s Cousin” (English and Spanish editions), and “Chasing the Spirit of Service”, winner of the 2011 Global eBook Award in multicultural fiction. Upcoming releases from Guardian Angel Publishing include "Grandma's Telescope" and "Taking Flight: Isabella's Aviary." Before becoming an author, Kristen worked at U.S. Central Command on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida writing thre ... More

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