South Africa
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READER LETTER | We must teach our boys how to treat girls

We live in a society where young boys grow up thinking they are superior to girls and they have the right to touch them, more especially on their bums.

These boys will see a girl walking, then they will run to her without her knowledge and hit her bum and run back while laughing at her. It makes girls uncomfortable and sometimes can lower their self-esteem. That is sexual harassment and as parents, we need to sit our young men down and have a chat about girls and how they should treat them.

As our sons grow older we normally talk to them about diseases, unwanted pregnancies and that they can avoid all these things by using protection, but we never seem to talk to them about rape, respecting a woman’s body, or protecting women from abuse. That is the conversation that needs to start happening in a society like ours that is full of rapists.

Boys need to learn at a young age not to touch a girl disrespectfully, how to respect their boundaries, how to not take advantage of them sexually, what full consent is and that when they say "no" or "stop", it means just that.

They need to learn from a young age how to possess emotional intelligence and use it so that their insecurities don't cause them to lash out immaturely and project that onto a girl or woman. We talk to our sons about sex and condoms and swear we did a good job.

We need to open the second door and talk about molestation, sexual manipulation and knowing the right things to do. We can't keep sending them out there with condoms and a pat on the back as if that's going to prepare him for all the variables.

Parents must stop being scared to start a conversation about sex with their sons, talk to him about the things he should do or how he should react when a girl is half-naked and unconscious. If she's drunk or not in her right mind, what do you do?

If you see some guys taking advantage of a girl what do you do? If you want a girl or have a crush on a girl and she says "no, I am not interested", how do you handle that? When young boys don't have the answers to these questions they make bad decisions.

Putting them on the spot and making them aware forces them to hold themselves accountable. We cannot control the things our children do out there but being informative can help in making wise decisions.

Consolation Mathebula, Bushbuckridge