Harassment

I’m so cross about this that I can hardly type. Child 2 and a friend were harassed by a large group of boys yesterday as they walked home from the bus stop – a stroll of only about 200 yards. Her friend is 11, and has just started year 8 at the big school. Child 2 herself is terrifically grown up these days, and in her last year at school. But that doesn’t mean that she is adept at dealing with annoying boys – and frankly, why should she be?

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These kids were younger than her, older than her friend, and very persistent. The journey from the bus stop is short but they followed all the way, yelling, jeering, desperately trying to attract the girls’ attention and getting cross and then crosser when they failed. If you’ve seen the YouTube film of a woman being harassed in New York you’ll know that pattern – that’s if you don’t know it all too well yourself.

The girl in this situation has really no good option. If she ignores the harassers, she gets labelled as snooty. If she talks to them, she is inviting contact, and will be blamed for all the bad stuff that can possibly happen next. What on earth is the best answer?

The best answer, in my view, is to do something about the boys. That’s easy for me to say, as the mother of girls. I’m sure all my friends out there with boys already feel they are doing their best to bring up a generation of pleasant, respectful, men. But I’m sorry, there is obviously a problem here. Something is going wrong. If boys feel it’s fine to go on this way in years 8 and 9, what on earth will they be doing to girls when they’re fully grown, in year 11 and onwards? They are invasive enough as pipsqueak lads in a large group. They will be truly intimidating and actually frightening as full-grown men – men who have been brought up with no respect for girls and women.

Can’t we teach boys and men that it’s not ok for large groups of them to pick on girls? Or, of course, for single men to prey on women and girls either. It shouldn’t even need to be said. But apparently it needs to be SHOUTED.

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