Thank you Time magazine for teaching our children the importance of speaking up

Girls need to be given the confidence to speak up.
Girls need to be given the confidence to speak up. Photo: Shutterstock

Despite President Trump convincing himself that he would get the title, Time magazine has named "The Silence Breakers" its Person of the Year for 2017.

As a mother of girls, I am taking this moment to talk to my children about the importance of speaking up, saying no and expecting the men in their lives to respect them.

I also want them to learn the names of the women behind the #MeToo movement. These women, recognised for inciting a worldwide groundswell of people coming forward to detail sexual harassment and assault, should be lifted up as modern day heroes.

2017 Time Person of the Year
2017 Time Person of the Year Photo: TIME

And we all know girls need strong women as role models.

As a direct result of their bravery, a whole host of men across a range of industries have been thrust into the spotlight for their despicable behaviour.

Many powerful men have been called out for their abuse including; movie producer Harvey Weinstein, comedian Louis CK and most recently US television host Matt Lauer. Locally, gardening expert Don Burke has faced a multitude of allegations against him.

Leading the charge are actresses Alyssa Milano, Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, #MeToo hashtag founder Tarana Burke, singer Taylor Swift, Uber engineer Susan Fowles, lobbyist Adama Iwu and Isable Pascual, a strawberry picker from Mexico whose name was changed to protect her identity.

And if we could include an Australian woman, I'd add journalist Tracey Spicer to that list.

Time Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal said the movement was named "for giving voice to open secrets, for moving whisper networks onto social networks, for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable".

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The decision to recognise the #MeToo movement is monumental for women everywhere and it provides the perfect platform to speak with your children about sexual harassment.

And not just girls: boys too.

The topic of sexual harassment is a difficult one to talk to children about, but with recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing that sexual assault is on the rise – it's vital.

In 2016, 23,052 victims of sexual assault were recorded in Australia, the highest figure in seven years.

But it's important to note, that these are the ones recorded.

Imagine how many assaults are not reported. Imagine how many women are too frightened and ashamed to tell authorities. Imagine how many women are advised not to take action because it may result in further distress.

Imagine how many men repeatedly abuse and harass women without any repercussion. It's terrifying to imagine. Far too terrifying.

The reality is every woman has a #MeToo moment. Every single woman.

That means it's vital as parents we talk to our children about this issue.

It also means we may be forced at some time to face the reality that our kids may be the perpetrators.

It is a painful truth that we as parents may fail someone else's child by not doing more to educate and act on our kids' actions, no matter how confronting.

We must teach our children that nobody has the right to touch them without their full consent, nobody has the right to leer at them, bully them or make them feel uncomfortable in their own skin.

Nor do you have a right to do any of these things to another person. There are no excuses. There are no free passes. There are no instances that make it acceptable.

Nobody asks for it. Nobody is your property. And if you step over the line, you should be forced to face the consequences, not be protected because "you're a good kid".

We must also teach our children that nobody has the right to get away with it either and speaking up and taking action is an important step in agitating for change. Staying silent, no matter how much kinder it might feel for the victim, will only result in more shame.

We as parents have a responsibility to drive change forward. We as parents have a responsibility to not only protect our children, but also others.

We owe it to all the women who have so bravely come forward with their stories and all of those who are yet to come.

One day, chances are, it will be your child.