Everyone must know when to draw the line
CAPE Town educational psychologist Anel Annandale says body language basics and interaction must be taught in schools as there is a thin line between playfulness among youngsters and inappropriateness.
“Drawing the line should apply to everyone. We need to start off with the basics – looking at hugging, what kind of hugging is appropriate. Side-way hugs. Don’t force someone into your chest. We tend to force children to do something with their bodies that they’re not keen on. We need to teach them the value of side-way hugs and high fives and not always that intimate contact.
“Anything that is covered by a bikini or swimming costume is out of bounds. Children might not realise that it is sexual harassment but it is something that needs to be taught at a very young age, and something that teachers can touch on a lot more as well.
“Children need to realise whatever the intent was, and again sexual harassment is a bit of a grey area, but any touching of any area that is covered by a swimming costume is inappropriate.”
Annandale explains that sexual harassment in schools is something that is covered very early on in the life skills curriculum but youngsters are not really thought of as sexual beings or being prone to being touched inappropriately.
“Teachers need to emphasise it a lot more, and carrying that message through to home is important.
“Teachers need to have a parents’ evening where they tell parents that this is what is being discussed in class and it needs to be reiterated back at home.
“There’s a need for it be stepped up a lot. It’s about practically implementing it, from the bottom up,” she says.