There is a scene in “Pretty Woman” where Richard Gere is icing Julia’s Robert’s face after Jason Alexander’s character hits her. She says to him “How do guys always know where to hit a woman? I mean, do they pull you aside in school and show you?” I always thought that was an interesting question and in a broad sense, the answer is yes.
We learn behaviors and what is and is not appropriate from the people around us. If they are all fighting and hitting women across the face- then I will learn just that. I’m not going to argue that lessons of how to treat people appropriately should begin at home, but what if we added to that?
I recently read this article about teaching relationship etiquette in schools. Can you imagine the heartache that could be sparred if people were taught from a young age that if you say you will call, you should in fact call? Or that it’s not polite to lead someone on if you are not interested? Jack Berger broke up with Carrie Bradshaw on a post-it. A POST-IT! He clearly could have benefited from a little relationship etiquette.
We teach sex education in school. As the article points out and as my own personal history can attest, this usually just involves a quick lesson about condoms. Wouldn’t students be better served to learn about self worth, how having sex will make them feel emotionally and what it could do to their relationships?
Not every child learns about healthy interaction at home. Unfortunately, the statistics about domestic violence are staggering. The husband who is hitting his wife is likely not sitting down with his son to discuss how he should never hit a woman. The woman who is being abused might not have the strength to talk to her daughter about setting boundaries or how to say no and be firm. I didn’t “officially” learn about domestic violence until college. Even then, it was just statistics and the legalities of restraining orders. Those statistics told me that if someone in my class was going to abuse another person, at that point they had likely already started.
As I said, these lessons should begin at home but unfortunately that’s not always the case. I’m sure many parents would take issue with these lessons being taught to their children. I however, believe that lessons of human decency are and should be universal. It’s not an argument about teachers talking to our children about religious or political beliefs. I believe it would be adding to their overall character and teaching basic lessons of how to treat our fellow human beings.