Every­one must know when to draw the line

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS -

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.

@Le­segoMak­gatho

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