As soon as I accepted this position as Managing Editor, I knew I would eventually oversee an issue delving into the uncomfortable topic of sex education, child abuse, and sexual harassment and cyber-bullying. I haven’t been discouraged by the embarrassed snickering when I introduced the topic to some, but I was surprised by the overwhelming encouragement from the parent community to spearhead this issue. The truth is that these are real issues teachers, parents, teens, and kids face.
I was four years old when I was first sexually abused, and the abuse lasted for four years unbeknownst to my parents. Now as a parent, I can easily see how the abuse was undetectable. My secret horrified and grieved my parents when I finally told them. I didn’t have the courage to tell my parents until I was a senior in high school, but by then the abuse had affected my personality, the way I coped with the anxieties of my life, my studies, and how I interacted with others and accepted peer sexual harassment. I had been living in pain and shame for something that wasn’t my fault.
I’m sure any parent can understand my current fears of something like this happening to my children, but it’s not just my own children I want to protect. Every child and teen deserves proper protection and advocacy from their parents and schools. Therefore, this issue is meant to educate and help parents, teachers, and administrators do just that. Students, if you or someone you know is going through this type of abuse, please turn to pg 38.
On pg 54 you’ll find a feature about the different developmental stages of children and how to talk to your children about their changing bodies. On pg 48, we share the true story of a Beijing student who was cyberbullied and, due to identify theft, was also accused of sexually harrassing his peers. For parents with young children, we found books that could help with these very tough topics (pg 36).
We didn’t want to leave the whole issue in such a serious mood, so we also have some light-hearted columns, including luxury gifts for Valentine’s Day (pg 17), a great meal for an at home date night (pg 22), and very cool projects by ISB students (pg 40).
Photo: Samuel David Rhinehart (Flickr)
This article originally appeared on page 2 of beijingkids 2017 February Issue. Download the digital version here.