My oldest daughter just turned 14 yesterday and has been taking Tae Kwon Do for almost 8 years now. This is actually one of the primary lessons we've hoped she's learned from her martial arts classes and is the first mental requirement for every rank: Respect for yourself, your family, the school, and all the students. It's been a battle for many years for her to understand what it meant to respect yourself and most of her school-yard issues dealt with words rather than actions, but it was still tough having her come home so upset at what boys would tease her with. Never mind that we thought that the boys came up with some pretty funny lines (like calling her Tae Kwon Cookie Dough), but if she didn't like it she had to learn how to diffuse the situation so they would understand that it wasn't okay. Once she learned to respond with humor ("That's Tae Kwon Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough to you!") rather than tears we thought we were on a better track, but it's still a struggle even in middle school.
As a parent of three girls, I can only hope that they all learn that it's not okay to let someone treat you in any way that you don't want to be treated, but I also know that it will come up for all three of them more than once. It's not okay, but it is something that they have to learn. I've had bosses that acted like schoolyard bullies and I didn't like it, didn't put up with it, and didn't stay in that situation for very long because I couldn't respect an adult who would treat people that way. But I do have to say that thankfully, none of the teachers that my daughters have had have used that dreaded phrase to my knowledge. The "oh, that just means he likes you." Um, no. That means he's immature and doesn't know how to treat other people respectfully. If he wants my child's attention, that is not the way to get it and yes, my children know the flip side is true as well. There are not specific gender lines when it comes to this kind of treatment and it all needs to stop. But I have great hope - maybe it's the fact that marriage equality was just signed into law in my home state, but I think each generation is teaching more tolerance and not perpetuating the cycle.