1 in 2 American children eventually witness the separation of their parents. 1 in 5 American women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. 1 in 7 American children suffer physical abuse or neglect during their childhood. 1 in 4 American girls and 1 in 6 American boys experience sexual abuse in childhood.
Let’s just make something painfully obvious, as it should be from these statistics: we aren’t learning how to have healthy relationships at home. Do we just expect people to learn how to formulate healthy relationships on their own, or do we know they probably won’t ever learn and we don’t care?
Why isn’t “Relationships 101” a class you have to take in high school? Why aren’t we teaching teens of all genders what consent, boundaries, trauma-bonding, gaslighting, and dehumanization look like?
It’s obviously asinine from a sexual public health perspective that all we do is slap “Don’t have sex before marriage and stay monogamous after marriage” on their foreheads, then send them off and hope they know how have sex safely. It’s from that same public health perspective that we need to teach our young people how to have healthy relationships with each other.
Our current strategy is doing basically nothing, and then hoping that they know how to have relationships safely. We spend so much time drilling propaganda into children’s brains–here’s how to DARE-snitch on your parents for smoking weed–and, like, no time at all giving kids the tools and opportunities to safely explore their sexual and emotional interests without hurting each other and setting each other up for failure.
I think most people are good people, who want to do good things for those they love.
I think most people do not know how to do that.