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I teach to kids, and they can be soooo interesting to work with sometimes…

One kid in my class is a very smart, talented and charming little guy who sometimes forgets that he is bigger and stronger than the rest of the kids. He means well, but he has a habit of manhandling his classmates rather than using his words (we are working on this). Today, he was playfully grabbing one of the girls and she yelled,

“Stop touching me!” He didn’t listen to her, so I told him,

“Hey– You need to listen to her words. She is asking you not to touch her so now it’s your job to respect that.” Again, meaning well, he patted her on the shoulders saying,

“Sorry, sorry!” I stepped in again,

“She just asked you not to touch her, so touching her more is not the answer.” Inwardly I was smacking my own forehead thinking, “Geez, is this kid ever going to get it?” I looked up, and he was holding a sparring helmet above her head (to help her put it on) and, bless his little heart, he looked her in the eye and asked,

“May I?”

I was thrilled! I wanted to cheer, “And that’s how kids can practice talking about consent!” but instead I beamed at him and reinforced the behavior with a,

“Good asking!”

Kids are all up in each others’ space, as a general rule, and it’s mostly in good fun. It’s important for us as adults to set the standards, however, that both kids and adults need to ask before they touch and listen to the answer. If kids practice respect, they will grow into respectful adults.

At 4pm on April 15, 2011, students and community members from throughout Wisconsin will march silently from Library Mall to the Capitol steps in a organized by the .

Check out this video by the LGBTCC on how anti-gay bullying impacts lives:

Bravo to UW-Madison as well for this PSA encouraging the campus community to speak out against bullying:

A culture that allows violence, bullying and discrimination against any group is connected to the same structures of oppression that continue the trend of violence against women and children. I encourage all my readers to speak out against hate speech in all its forms!

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