As parents and adults, we only want the best for our children and the next generation as a whole. But this is an unnerving time in history for everyone. During the pandemic, we saw Domestic Violence quadruple, with women and children stuck at home with no relief. We saw the burning question of consent in school’s playout as 200,000 school students signed petitions for consent to be taught at a younger age and many of those students (mostly female) came forward with their own harrowing stories of sexual assault at the hands of their male “friends” or boys they knew from neighbouring schools. With the facts and statistics so readily available it is time to ask yourself if you could be doing more to understand the cycle of violence and in turn teaching the next generation about the importance of self-control, consent and speaking up when you see toxic masculinity.
We need to teach our children not only right from wrong, but also the importance of respect for themselves and others which in turn will give them the best chance to have healthy relationships with the opposite sex as they grow older. Research has proven that primary prevention and intervention strategies are the best way to curb the increasing numbers of Domestic Violence plaguing Australia, and it has to start at a younger age. Not all disrespect towards women results in violence. But all violence against women starts with disrespectful behaviour, even from a young age.
So, what exactly is Primary Prevention?
Primary prevention strategies seek to prevent violence before it occurs. Prevention strategies focus on changing behaviour and/or building the knowledge and skills of individuals around. However, the structural, cultural and societal contexts in which violence occurs are also very important targets for primary prevention. Strategies that do not have a particular focus on violence against women but address its underlying causes (such as gender inequality and poverty) are also primary prevention strategies.
Violence against women and girls is the most widespread human rights violation not only in Australia but in the world. Every week in Australia one woman on average is killed by her current or former partner. This year in Australia alone we have had the lives of 13 women taken from Domestic violence and it’s only the middle of May. As women, it is easy to feel unsafe walking to our cars late at night, or after a night out with friends, but in the case of domestic violence you know or live with the perpetrator.
What you can do to help at home.
From a young age, boys and girls start to believe there are reasons and situations that make disrespectful behaviour acceptable. We might be surprised that saying things like “it’s ok, he just did it because he likes you” and “boys will be boys” excuses this behaviour in the minds of young people. Yet it’s easy to make those excuses without even realising it. It’s important we understand the cycle of violence. Not all disrespect towards women results in violence. But all violence against women starts with disrespectful behaviour. What you might see as harmless phrases can send mixed messages to your children about playing down disrespect, especially towards young girls.
At home, it is also very important to avoid gender stereotypes, phrases like “man up” or “boys don’t cry” often have a negative effect on your son’s confidence and self-esteem. These sorts of phrases imply that boys should suppress their emotions when the fact is it is totally normal and healthy for them to feel sad, just as a female would. Reflecting on our own attitudes, which might excuse disrespect, and being aware of the things we say to young people is the first step towards making a change. Proactive, preventative conversations are worth addressing from a young age with both boys and girls. Every time we speak out against disrespectful behaviours, we are one step closer to stopping the cycle of violence against women.
If you know someone who is experiencing violence, or if you are concerned about someone’s behaviour with regards to their partner or family these Australian wide hotlines are open 24/7 for a confidential discussion.
(1800 737 732)
The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
24 hours, 7 days a week.
(13 11 14)
A national number that can help put you in contact with a crisis service in your state.
24 hours, 7 days a week.