Today much has been said about the issue of family violence and how, as a nation, we need to commit to eliminating it. We’ve talked about how teachers, police, governments and parents can recognise the symptoms and how best to react.
But what about older Australians? What part do we play?
As grandparents and people who have lived through the time when family violence was considered par de course, we have a vital role to play in creating a brave new world for our granddaughters, grandsons and future generations.
Our job? It’s simple, really: from this moment forth we must refuse to accept violence towards women, men and children.
One of the most alarming discoveries to come out of government research into the causes and impacts of domestic violence is the prevalence of attitudes that perpetuate or excuse violence among young people:
- One in six believe “women should know their place”.
- One in four young men believe that controlling and violent behaviours are signs of male strength.
- One in three young people don’t think that exerting control over someone else is a form of violence.
The reason children have these attitudes is because we have passed them down.
In a raw, heartfelt speech yesterday, the chair of the COAG Advisory Panel on Reducing Violence against Women and their Children, Ken Lay, a former police officer, laid down the gauntlet for Australians to put an end to attitudes that excuse violence.
He said, the research showed that girls as young as 10-years-old felt they were to blame for aggressive behaviour from boys. And that boys and the people who influence them excuse their behaviour.
“Boys will be boys” is an excuse.
“It’s not that bad, it’s not like he punched her” is an excuse.
“It takes two to tango” is an excuse.
“I was deeply disturbed by these findings. They shocked me to my very core,” said Mr Lay.
“These attitudes of gender inequality are so embedded that we don’t challenge them – we can’t challenge them because we don’t even see them.
“We need to see them. We need to challenge them. We need to own them.”
So next time you’re talking to a younger person, be they your child, grandchild, a friend or a stranger, listen closely for these assumptions and embedded cultural attitudes, and say “no more”.
Challenge them by pointing them out. Quiz your granddaughter on what she thinks is an acceptable way for women to be treated. And if you suspect someone is experiencing violence, find a way to speak up.
The violence must stop.
If you agree that the violence must stop, help us spread the message by sharing this post.
Need help? Phone 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).