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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: White Ribbon

You can help prevent men’s violence towards women by being a positive influence on other men.

“Effective prevention has to move beyond just saying violence is wrong,” says White Ribbon Manager Rob McCann. “We need to promote alternative healthy behaviours such as Respectful Relationships, Healthy Masculinity and Consent so we’ve created a new video and added a new Toolbox to help men get comfortable with the concept.

If we want change, we must encourage boys and men to recruit and educate other boys and men in ways that lift each other up. An effective way to do this is by ‘inviting’ men, rather than indicting them. This means not only modelling positive behaviour in front of each other, but also understanding that other men might be at a different part of their journey and still working it out for themselves.

“It’s easy to call people out, and let’s face it, we have to call out violence or bad behaviour,” says Mr McCann. “Saying nothing simply allows the perpetrator to believe their behaviour or attitude is ok. But we need to be more subtle and start calling people in, not simply calling them out.

“If we want people to change, we need to learn how to effectively engage them, and have meaningful conversations to promote sustained change. The reality is, that believing in the rigid rules of masculinity is 20 times more likely to predict committing violence than other demographic factors like ethnicity, age or income.”[1]

“That means the beliefs that fuel violence are far more entrenched and possibly learned behaviour. Instead of jumping down your mate’s throat for saying the wrong thing, try asking questions: If your mate says something sexist, ask them why they think that, or where they got that idea from? You could tell them that you don’t understand and ask them what they mean. You can also draw on your own values that support respectful behaviour.”

David Cournane, White Ribbon Ambassador and deputy principal of Aotea College agrees. “Once upon a time if you were coaching a team you would have highlighted mistakes and used shame to call out unwanted behaviours. While we still have to correct errors, there is now much more of a focus on finding those moments where the players are doing something well, and using these as key learning moments.  With a focus upon growing from our strengths and our successes, we are more likely to engage those around us.

“I know that being empathetic, and understanding the drivers behind someone’s behaviour, and speaking to those issues, is far more effective than just simply calling someone out. If you want people to change, you’ve got to give them a reason to change, and that requires being empathetic and kind,” says Mr Cournane.

[1] The Men’s Project & Flood, M (2020).