I Want To Teach My Daughter How To Be Safe

I have been putting off writing this post. Ever since the Rehtaeh Parsons case here in Nova Scotia and the Steubenville case in Ohio I have been seeing this slogan, ‘Don’t teach women not to be raped teach men not to rape.’ As a father of two boys and one girl I have been wanting to talk about this. But I have wanted to wait until the emotions in my own community settled down some. Now seems as good of a time as any to finally put my thoughts into words.

Let me start by promising I will do everything within my power to teach my two boys to respect women. I will go well beyond just teaching them not to rape. We will have the tough conversations around consent, the internet, text messaging, taking pictures and videos with your cellphone, everything. You have my word on it.

So with my sons well looked after what I want to talk about is the safety of my precious little girl. I am worried about her safety. And I am worried if it becomes unacceptable for us to teach young women ways to help keep themselves safe that my daughter will be at even greater risk.

A few weeks ago I read one commentator say this, “Does it seem absurd if I say we should teach our kids how not to be killed?”  The implied answer is yes that does seem absurd. But I don’t think that is absurd at all, I am constantly teaching my children how not to be killed.

Take for example crossing the street. We teach our children road safety. However as a pedestrian you are fully within your rights to cross the street at any crosswalk, regardless of road condition, time of day, or level of traffic. Likewise you can cross the street without looking, without pressing the crossing button, and without taking your eyes off your text messages. Even if you were to cross the street at the height of rush hour blindfolded and wearing ear plugs drivers do not have the right to hit you. But if you do all that you are much more likely to be hit and killed by a car than if you had watched traffic carefully, pressed the crossing button, and then crossed the street.

Another example is home invasion. I have a right to be safe in my own home. I should be able to leave all of the doors and windows unlocked at all times and never have to worry about someone entering my home to steal my belongings or harming my family. And yet every night, and every time we go out  I lock all of my doors. Because having the right to be safe in my home doesn’t mean someone will not try to break in.

I agree we should teach our sons not to rape. But I also want to teach my daughter ways to be safe.

I want to teach her to be safe for three reasons. First I don’t think every rape would have been prevented if every boy was taught not to rape. Second even if I did think we could teach every boy not to become a rapist, I know not every boy will receive that lesson. Thirdly even if every parent of every pre-teen boy decides today to teach their son(s) not to rape, and that education would prevent all of these boys from even considering raping there are still literally millions of men young and old that were not taught to ‘not rape’ out there, some of whom are already rapists.

I want my daughter to be safe. I want her to be safe crossing the street, I want her to be safe in our home, I want her to be safe walking down dark alleyways, and I want her to be safe from potential rapists. Because I want her to be safe I want to be able to do my best to teach her (and my sons) to be safe.

We need to stop rape. We need to stop victim blaming. We need to stop failing to prosecute rapists. We need to stop making women feel they cannot come forward to the authorities if they have been raped. But I don’t think we should stop teaching ways that can keep our daughters safer.

My Little Girl, I Will Protect Your For As Long As I Can As Well As I Can

My Little Girl, I Will Protect Your For As Long As I Can As Well As I Can

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12 thoughts on “I Want To Teach My Daughter How To Be Safe

  1. I completely agree. I believe the thought behind this new slogan is good, we do need to start having this conversation with our sons. Too often We have taught girls and women not to go into dark alleys but we never thought to teach boys and men not to lure a girl into a dark alley; it just seemed like common sense. Unfortunately common sense is not so common anymore. We (often unintentionally) put all the responsibility for prevention onto women, which in turn made many feel guilty when they were victimized.

    The issue with this new slogan is that now all responsibility is being put onto men, and that works for the men and boys who are decent, and mentally healthy. It is totally disregarding the huge part of society that is broken and sometimes just pure evil. Women still need to be taught not to go into dark alleys, because sadly there are still disturbed individuals out there.

    We need to teach our boys not to rape. We need to teach our girls safety measures to lower the risk of assault. We need to teach everyone that rape is not about sex. It is about power. It is never the victims fault. We need to change the legal system so it does not re-victimize those brave individuals that do come forward.

    There is much to be done to fix the ‘rape culture’ that plagues our society. These changes require everyone’s participation. Men. Women. Boys. Girls. We are all necessary for change.

    • I agree Holly.This is such a well thought out response. I think like is most aspects in life we need to teach our children how to do what is right, and how to stay safe when other people chose to do otherwise.

  2. Great post. Have you seen this post: http://accidentaldevotional.com/2013/03/19/the-day-i-taught-how-not-to-rape/?

    Also, just an interesting sidenote about US law. I recently watched the movie “Snitch” which is about a young man who was imprisoned after being set up in drug deal (he was innocent) but there’s a very strick first time drug trafficing offense law in the US (first time offender of mandatory minimum sentence laws) but a sentence can be reduced if you snitch, but being innocent the boy didn’t actually know anyone and didn’t want to set up innocent people (which is how he ended up in his position in the first place). The point being that if he had raped someone, he’d only face 2 years in prision as opposed to a potential 20! There just seems to be something wrong here.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0882977/

    • I hadn’t seen that post. It is very scary how many guys don’t get it, and how many seem to think they have a right to have sex with whomever they please. We have a lot of work to do educating our young men.

    • The difference in minimum sentences for drugs vs. sex crimes is disgraceful. There is a quote from a child molester being interviewed on Oprah that I found to be so incredibly powerful and should speak against these horribly low sentences: “I killed who she could have been.”

      • There is such a problem when it comes to sentencing sex offenders. Some of the worst of the worst who have no hope of rehabilitation are only getting a handful of years, that is disgraceful.

  3. Oooohh controversial subject! I’m going to go an alternative route and say this – I love your daughter’s bike and that she’s safe wearing a helmet!

  4. Definitely agree with you here. I’ve had very similar thoughts to this as well. It particularly hit me as the father of both a boy and a girl. Both need to learn respect, both need to learn to be safe. It shouldn’t be teach sons not to rape, but don’t teach your daughters anything about staying as safe as possible.

    We should in essence be teaching everyone to not rape and teaching everyone how to avoid being raped, and how it isn’t their fault even if they failed to be as safe as they could have been. Those are just my thoughts anyway.

  5. Pingback: Wanderings of the Week 6/02/13 | My Life on the Balance Beam

  6. Pingback: 1 in 5 Canadians Believe Women Encourage Sexual Assault |

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