How to change embedded attitudes about violence against women?

February 18, 2016

domestic violenceThe concerning statistics say it all – one in three Australian women have experienced physical violence, one in four emotional abuse and one in five sexual violence. How could it be that 89 women were killed by their current or former partner in just two years in Australia?

Today’s news report by The Age, talks about how we can change embedded attitudes about violence against women. Could talking to boys and teaching them how to control their sudden bursts of emotion help tackle the problem?

JoAnn Deak, an American psychologist who researches brain development, believes boys and girls process, and react to, strong emotion differently. In a serious, but amusing study, she asked a number of adolescent boys and girls what they were thinking when they had their first kiss. The girls reported thoughts like, ”Does this mean he likes me? Does my breath smell? Am I doing this right?” The boys said simply, ”Think?”

Many psychologists say that boys’ sudden bursts of emotion can prevent them thinking or analysing what is happening.

How many times have we said to our daughters, ”Are you going out wearing that?” or, ”Your skirt is way too short” or, ”Don’t you understand the impression you are giving people if you wear that?” Are we unwittingly encouraging them to think that they can provoke or attract bad things happening to them? Of course we want to protect our daughters from harm but do we want them to think it’s always their fault?

On the other hand, do we talk to our sons about how to control their sudden bursts of emotion, or about the influence alcohol can play in lowering their ability and that of girls to think clearly? Do we talk to them about respectful relationships? How do we teach them to pause in that moment before emotion turns to action?

To read the full report CLICK HERE.

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