When we were kids, some of us might have played dress-up, others cops and robbers—the sort of games that are supposed to be a precursor to a wonderful childhood. Unfortunately, it seems that not all the kids we might have played with went on to have lovely memories. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, kids who played games that didn’t exactly match the gender role society has assigned them are much more likely to be abused than kids who did.

Researchers believe that the abuse is most likely inflicted by the children’s own parents or the other adults in their environment. While no concrete reason for this has been found, they believe that much of the abuse came from some parents' idea that if they forced their kids to conform, their behavior wouldn't persist into adulthood.

In a childhood questionnaire, almost 9,000 participants aged 17 to 27 reported their own childhood experiences—who they had wanted to become at that age and whether they had suffered any sort of abuse or not. Results revealed that non-conforming boys were three times more likely to suffer sexual abuse than their conforming counterparts. Meanwhile, girls who didn’t conform were 60 percent more likely to be sexually abused. Rates of psychological and physical trauma are more or less similar across genders.


The statistics are not pretty. Despite growing awareness and understanding, there still seems to be a large number of kids who end up suffering for simply being themselves. As parents, we are supposed to protect our children and help them become the best person they can be—something we can’t do unless we accept them for who they are wholeheartedly.

For more information on gender stereotypes, check out this article:

For more on raising healthy kids, try these:

(Photo by Chris Bartow via Flickr Creative Commons)

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