Author | Permission to Use Info

Irene van der Zande,
Kidpower Executive Director and Founder

Let me share with you a personal story on this hot button issue.

Many of you know that the inspiration for starting Kidpower happened in 1985, when I protected a group of young children, including my own two, from a man who was threatening to kidnap them.

One life-changing action I did after this was to take a full-force self-defense workshop. Learning how to fight off an attacker and hearing other women’s stories made me realize that I had faced and escaped from threatened or actual sexual assaults nearly 20 times, especially during my more adventurous and vulnerable youthful years.

As a part of processing this reality, I wrote down many of these stories. Boys Will be Boys” first appeared in the book Sexual Harassment: Women Speak Out, which was published at the time people were outraged by the belittlement Anita Hill was subjected to by so many in Congress as she courageously spoke out about having been sexually harassed by Clarence Thomas.

Before you read this story, I’d like to share a few additional thoughts. I am blessed with many wonderful men in my life who are deeply respectful of everyone – all genders, all races, and all beliefs. I know that most men are not violent.

Sadly, however, too many boys and men are taught to believe that “real men act tough” in order to be powerful, which is unhealthy for them as well as unsafe for others. This belief also means boys and men who do not act “tough” are at more risk of being targeted for harm. The sad result is that most of the violence against girls, boys, women, and LGBTQ+ people in our society is committed by boys and men. Instead, everyone needs to be taught to be powerful by showing caring respect for themselves and each other and standing up against violence against anyone. At Kidpower we teach that these issues are not “against men” – but truly about all people against violence. We strongly support programs and promote beliefs that provide positive role models, and safety skills for boys and men, girls and women, and young people and adults of other gender identities.

I also believe that, to help our culture heal, we need to create a viable path for young people who have harmed others to give sincere apologies and make meaningful amends. This means they need to acknowledge what happened, show true remorse for the harm done with both their words and actions, and help prevent this from happening to others.

TRIGGER WARNING: Unlike most of my articles, “Boys Will Be Boys‘ story is about being sexually harassed and threatened and has details that might be upsetting to some readers. You can read the full article now in our free online library.


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Published: October 9, 2018   |   Last Updated: October 9, 2018

Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, and the Amazon Best Seller Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.