Teaching a 4th Grader about Sexual Harassment

I had to pick up Andrew from a friend’s house the other night.  I had NPR playing on the radio and they were talking about how Tom Brokaw was recently accused of sexual harassment.


“Dad, what’s that?” I heard from the back seat.  I’ve made a commitment to never be dismissive to my kids about any question they ask me.  So, I took a deep breath and started.  Here we go…

“You know how when you’re older, you go on dates?  Well… when you go on dates, you should make sure that the other person also wants to go on a date with you.  Sexual Harassment is when there’s two people and one of them really wants to date, and the other one doesn’t.   And when the person that wants to date keeps bothering the person that doesn’t.”

“Is that illegal?” he asked.

“No, it’s not illegal… but when the person that wants to date is really powerful, and the person that doesn’t want to date doesn’t have a lot of power, that can be a bad situation…  the world sees it as unfair…  and even though it’s not illegal, you can get sued because of how unfair it is.”

“oh….. ”  He acknowledged with a hint of understanding.  “It’s like Bowser and Peach.”

At first, I didn’t understand what he was talking about.  Then it dawned on me, he’s talking about Mario Brothers.  I think the premise of every Mario Brothers game that I’ve seen is that Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach and runs off with her.  And the game is about Mario trying to rescue her.


“Yes. It’s kinda like that.  Make sure when you’re trying to date someone, that they want to go on a date with you, too.  If they tell you they’re not interested, then it’s time to move on…   Best not to bother them at that point.   Don’t touch them.  Certainly don’t kidnap them… ”

Good talk…

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