The end of last week was devastating for our family. With one phone call, everything went to hell.
I've spoken on this blog before about rape and similar crimes against women. But I never expected for it to hit so close to home, or so soon.
As most of you know, I have a 5 year old daughter. I worry constantly about her well being, about her self esteem, and about shaping her into a strong young woman as I'm raising her.
We got a phone call from her principal on Thursday afternoon. A little boy in her class put his hands in her pants. Right in front of her teacher. Another little girl told. At first, it seemed like a simple case of inappropriate curiosity and after a good long talk about how her private parts were her's and no one else was allowed to touch her, especially if she said no (which she did...how did her teacher miss this?!), we moved on. She didn't seem upset by it and I didn't want to magnify the situation to embarrass her or make it any harder than it already was.
Thursday night, I was getting her ready for her shower and she completely broke down. I asked her what was wrong and she said she had had a bad day. I already knew that, so I asked if she wanted to talk about it. She said yes, I asked nothing, and then she just blurted it out, "Today, when he touched me, it wasn't the first time". My heart sank and I literally felt sick, but I held it together for her. "You mean he touched you more than once today?" and she answers "No, mommy. He touches me everyday". I have never felt such an awful combination of physically ill, raging anger, and complete heartbreak in my entire life. I wanted to cry for her. I wanted to find this little kid and kill him. I wanted to kill his parents! How could this happen? How did her teacher miss it?! Why didn't anyone notice my little girl telling this little boy, "No!", "Stop!", and "Leave me alone!"? How does that go un-noticed?
Luckily, the next day, I went to school with her and we made big changes to get her away from the little boy. Her principal and school counselor have been amazing and are adamant about doing whatever needs to be done to make her comfortable and feel safe. She seems happy and is settling back in well and I'm making sure to watch her for anything that needs attention. But this brings bigger questions to the surface.
For a 5-6 year old little boy to do this, everyday...to ignore her protests and laugh at her when she made them...what is going on with him? Is something being done to him at home? The thought is heart breaking. Or, is it that we as a society are completely on the wrong track with how we're raising our boys and what they're seeing? We're seeing more and more sexual innuendo on tv. Even on channels made for younger audiences. Why aren't we teaching our boys that no means "no"? And why aren't we teaching our kids more about personal space?
My husband and I give a lot of attention to how our boys are being raised, for this very reason. Because I want them to know how to treat a girl. Because I want them to know how to treat a wife. Because I want them to know what is and what isn't appropriate when it comes to their interactions with girls. Why aren't more people worried about this? Rape is terrifyingly common these days. Are we teaching our boys that that's okay? That it's just part of life? That it's not really a big deal? And if so, is that trickling down to younger children? Making little boys think that it's okay to touch girls in inappropriate places, even if the little girls says no? Are our schools no longer a safe place for our children?
When a couple has a daughter, there's a certain idea that comes along with that...that you're going to have to protect her from things like that. But when we had our boys, I felt the same amount of responsibility. Not necessarily to protect them from the same things that I would my daughter (not that I would ignore that area with them), but to raise them a certain way. To raise them to be respectful men. Because the last thing this world needs is more men who think they can do and take what they want, when they want, regardless of how someone else feels.
I realize that my daughter wasn't raped at school by some old sex-predator. But this is equally scary to me. The last person you would expect to do something like this is some 5 year old little boy who's sitting next to her in class. Will he do it again, to another little girl? If this isn't addressed appropriately, will he end up taking the next step when he's older? Will he end up raping a girl? Or worse? This isn't an issue that I expected to have to address with my 5 year old little girl. Of course, I expected to have some sort of conversation regarding some of these issues with her once she was older. No one expects to have this type of conversation so soon. And it is devastating. It breaks my heart that I couldn't protect her from this...that I didn't even think to.
What are you doing to prevent the next generation from facing these types of problems? Are you raising your kids a certain way? Working in the education field?