Let’s look at the numbers:
• One in three women over the age of 15 have experienced physical violence.
• One in five have experienced sexual violence.
• One in four have been emotionally abused by a partner.
• One in four children in Australia experience domestic and family violence.
There is no doubt that there is significant room for improvement with respect to RESPECT in Australia. As with most things, this crucial life lesson begins at home given parents are the primary educators of their sons! Here are a few insights from Dr Justin Coulson into how you can form your son to be a Signum Fidei (Sign of Faith):
Junior School Students
Violent media is increasingly normal and has a desensitising impact on boys. What programs do you watch or games do you play with your son e.g. MMA, Game of Thrones, Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty etc. It’s helpful to minimise exposure to games, movies and shows that promote disrespect, violence and inhumanity.
The average age of boys’ exposure to pornography is 11. Boys are exposed to hardcore, violent and disgusting content that sends a message that women exist to be violently and sexually disrespected. I have outlined some helpful resources in my previous blogs that can support parents and boys. Let your son know that people might want to show pornography to them and that it’s not a real portrayal of life. Don’t normalise exposure to porn as something ‘boys do’.
•Walk the Talk and Talk the Walk
When you see disrespect from Donald Trump to Tim Somona, talk about it. Ask your son how it leaves him feeling. How does it make the victims feel? What are better ways of responding to it? Such conversations promote empathy and perspective, and help boys develop social awareness and conscience.
Middle and Senior School Students
Boys must know that they should not touch a woman without her explicit consent. We should talk to our boys about scenarios where they may find themselves in with girls including at parties. Consent is a conversation that must be had repeatedly.
When you catch your boys (or husbands) criticising women on gendered issues – call them on it. Let them know sexism is not cool and it is not funny. Ultimately, regardless of everything that we say, it is what we do that makes the biggest impact on our sons’ respectfulness. What the blokes in your son’s lives do will set the scene for ongoing behaviour from your sons.
•Support ATC Staff
Have a ‘difficult’ conversation about how your son (or their mates) might change his or their behaviour around female staff at ATC. Discuss what they can do to challenge any disrespect from students towards female staff.
Conor Finn, Dean of Formation