I consider myself to be an intelligent, hip, connected parent who is pretty in-touch with tweens and teens in today’s world.
As a mother raising daughters, I have the bases covered. There are no topics that are off base in our home, and we freely discuss things like white privilege, racism, women’s rights in our country – now and in the past. I am doing my best to raise aware, empowered women.
But I had no idea how clueless I really was.
I had no idea that thousands of girls were unknowing contributors in a horrific new-age nightmare that is leaving them sexually abused and assaulted. And we can prevent so much of it as parents if we just open our eyes, dig in and get involved.
So, this? This is a #MeToo for them ~
#MeToo for our daughters who are pressured into sending pictures of themselves in their underwear to a boy to express their “interest” in him. They’ve said no a bunch of times. And the boys they like? He just moves on to the next girl AND says horrible things about her to his friends. Telling his buddies she sent the pictures anyway and crudely commenting about the way her body looked in them. She’s learned they are going to talk anyway – she might as well do it and see if she can control what they say about her. Because she’s damned either way.
#MeToo for our daughters who felt this same pressure to send nude pictures of themselves. For all of the same reasons above.
#MeToo for our daughters who escalated the pictures to videos because they are told it is what they need to do . . . should do . . . have to do if they really love and care about him. To prove it. Because her words aren’t enough. Her body is the proof, her self-respect is the price.
#MeToo for our daughters whose boyfriend thought it was okay to share these pictures and videos with his friends. And across his social media channels. Dissecting every square inch of her body for the world to see. Over and over and over.
#MeToo for our daughters who are pressured, convinced, cajoled and manipulated in to sex time and time again by friends and people they trusted. Sometimes with friends, siblings or family members in the next room or elsewhere in the house.
#MeToo for our daughters who don’t understand it is not their fault when they said NO. It is not their fault they gave up and gave in because of those damn expectations again. Not saying “yes” and consenting fully equals rape, regardless of what they sent and said and did already.
#MeToo for our daughters who don’t grasp they are being groomed and programmed for future mental and physical abuse because this is their dating foundation.
#MeToo for our daughters who are unknowingly being scouted for sex-trafficking because of this behavior on social media. Don’t believe me? Read, “Just How Far Does Human Sex Trafficking Reach”.
#MeToo for our daughters whose self-worth and self-esteem are torn down and rebuilt in a system of mental and sexual abuse otherwise known as the American High School Experience. This goes beyond race, class and economic status and it is EVERYWHERE there are tweens, teens and technology. Girls are being taught they must be subject to intense scrutiny both at school and on social media, willing to do anything at any cost, and are nothing more than vessels for boys to score with, take pictures of, insult and demean, physically abuse, and then be discarded and left to be passed around to the next boy while trying to defend a reputation that may or may not rooted in lies. And tween/teen boys? Zero consequences.
#MeToo for our daughters whose parents don’t check her phone, don’t monitor her social channels, don’t ask for passwords, don’t check out her friends, don’t ask enough questions, “respect her privacy” and do not provide a safe place for her to get out and make different choices. Teen girls do not need privacy, they need someone willing to stand up for them, stand with them, and walk through the fires of their youth holding firmly to their hand to teach them to be fireproof. They don’t need a best friend, they need a parent.
If you don’t think this is happening with your tween or teen girl, ask yourself ~
- Do you understand all of the social media apps that are available and how kids are using them?
- Do you read EVERYTHING on her phone? Laptop? Tablet? Every day / week / month? Just following her on social media does not get the job done because there is a front end that kids show the outside world, and then an underground they use just for themselves that can’t be seen from being their follower. This is where the danger is. You will only see the back-end, insider information if you are logged in as her within her social platforms.
- Do you read her Notes App? Scroll through her Camera Roll? Know her “My Eyes Only” code in Snapchat?
- Do you sit with her while she is on social media? Do you know everyone she is communicating with? Does she?
- Is she allowed to have technology in her room, behind closed doors, even for “homework”?
- Do you know her friends? Her friend’s parents? Do you follow them on social media? See what they are doing?
- Does your daughter have sleep overs? Do you know where she is during time away from you?
- Do you freely talk about sex with your daughter? Have you provided an environment for open discussion if she has questions?
If you can’t answer all of the above with a resounding YES, I urge you to use this as a wake-up call before something catastrophic happens within your family and community. And yes, I said community because it’s not just one random girl here and there. This is a systemic problem among tweens and teens. If you’re not familiar, read this New York Post article entitled, “How Social Media is Destroying The Lives Of Teen Girls”. I’ve confirmed with the tweens/teens in my circles that it’s 100% accurate. I’ve also found that the book referenced in this article by Nancy Jo Sales, “American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers” is a powerful resource (affiliate).
For all of the parents of boys: don’t think you are off the hook on this. While this post may paint boys out to be the “bad guys”, the information I’m sharing is based on the research I’ve done and the plethora of social content I’ve seen with my own eyes. There is a rampant disrespect for females and an expectation that boys can send pictures of their penises to anyone and everyone without repercussions. Not to mention the blatant disregard for basics like needing consent before having sex with someone. All of the bullet points mentioned above that parents should be doing for teen girls apply for teen boys as well. And then some.
Let’s break the #MeToo cycle for our daughters. For as much as we talk about empowering the next generation of women, we are failing in so many ways. When we know better, we do better. Now you know.