Parenting, as I have come to understand it, is an endless series of life hacks.
My wife and I have to think creatively to stay ahead of our two sons. I’ve hidden vitamins beneath pools of ketchup, made cough-syrup ice pops, learned the hard way that toothpaste will clean marker off wood furniture while hair spray will get it out of upholstery.
But there are no shortcuts for the core mission of parenting: Raising a child to be a good person.
The thought of either of my two sons harassing or assaulting another person, or being victims themselves, is enough to keep me up at night. Any parent is likely to share my worry.
My boys are only 11 and 13, but the University of Kentucky psychologist Christia Brown says that sexual harassment isn’t a problem confined to the adult world. It begins, in fact, much earlier. “By the time girls leave middle school, the majority of them have been sexually harassed,” she told me by email.
Nor are sexual bullying and harassment confined to girls. Teenage boys are under tremendous pressure to “act like a guy,” which often means fitting into narrow (and often toxic) conventions of manhood. Dr. Brown said, “It’s common for boys to be called homophobic slurs in middle and high school, especially if they deviate from the very narrow stereotype of what it means to be a typical adolescent boy.” Some boys, in fact, might sexually harass girls simply to keep themselves from being harassed.
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