One in five women are victims of completed or attempted sexual assault
while in college.
Do you have a daughter? I do. She’s little and full of
life. She loves fairies, dance and
soccer. She makes mud pies while the sun
sets in the distance and rides her bike extra fast to feel the breeze in her
hair. She fills journals with stories and loves math – even the
new version of math that seems to require forever and a day just to complete
one problem. She can’t get enough
information about animals and what she can do to save the habitats of animals
all over the world, even creepy looking bats.
And one day she will probably want to go to college. Right now, at this very moment, that
petrifies me. While our country seems
determined to produce “college and career ready” students, it’s not doing much
to raise kind and considerate kids. And
that’s a mistake.
As a mom, psychotherapist and parent educator, I’m
certain that we need a paradigm shift in this country. “College and career ready” are important
words, but we need to tack on “kind and considerate individuals” too. While the Common Core State Standards specify
learning goals in a lot of areas, they don’t address the social and
emotional growth of children and adolescents. At all. In short, high school
students graduate with a fair amount of knowledge on various subjects, but they
might not know how to relate to their peers.
We assume that kids are getting this input at home, at
school and in the community. But that
doesn’t seem to be the case.
We’ve failed those kids, if you ask me. Every single one of them.
Less than one month after California Governor Jerry Brown signed the “Yes Means Yes” bill, which requires sexual partners on college
campuses to give “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” to sex, five
more people were reportedly drugged and sexually
assaulted at a fraternity near the University of California at Berkeley. That brings the total to nine so far
this school year, for those of you keeping score.
We get these kids “college and career ready,” but then we
send our girls into a battle zone of sexual assault because
apparently many college students don’t seem to understand that yes means yes
and no means no. We’ve failed those
kids, if you ask me. Every single one of
If you think this is a college-level problem that will work itself out before your child gets to college, think
again. A hazing
and sexual abuse scandal involving several football players at Sayreville
War Memorial High School in Sayreville, N.J., led to the suspension of the
football season and suspensions of the head coach and four other coaches. It has rocked an otherwise quiet suburban town. Seven varsity football players have been charged with assaulting four
younger teenage players, holding them against their will and touching them in a
sexual manner. Three of them were
charged with aggravated sexual assault.
Some argue that “hazing” is a rite of passage
for fraternities and sports teams. Hazing has been around for many years and happens at many levels. In fact, New York became the first state to
pass an anti-hazing
law in 1894. The
question is: how did it come to this?
It all comes back to the village.
It takes a village to raise kind, caring, empathic and
considerate young men and women. Parents, schools, coaches, religious organizations and other community
programs all play a role in guiding our children toward making healthy and
positive choices. It’s up to all of us
to raise our kids up, and that starts with high expectations when it comes to
kindness and consideration.
In the race to the top, we’ve forgotten the importance of raising good kids.
It’s time to stop arguing about (and posting to Facebook)
complicated math problems and reading logs that seem time-consuming and focus
on adding social-emotional skills to our curriculum, instead.
In the race to the top, we’ve forgotten the importance of
raising good kids – the kind who look out for others and stand up for those who
need a voice. Your kid might or might
not get into Harvard or Yale, only time will tell. But if you raise your children to be kind,
respectful and empathic, they will have an easier transition to college
and life beyond the nest.
Let’s put kindness back in the game and stop failing our
children, shall we?