White Ribbon focus on teaching boys to be good men

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Manning up:  Phil Paikea, Northland White Ribbon ambassador, says men have to start teaching their sons about good relationships. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Manning up: Phil Paikea, Northland White Ribbon ambassador, says men have to start teaching their sons about good relationships. Photo/Michael Cunningham

White Ribbon Day in Northland was more about bro hugs and gentle words than a bunch of heavy-looking dudes roaring through town on motorbikes.

Ambassadors and supporters in Cameron St in Whangarei yesterday spread a quieter message - the flip-side of the attitudes and images in which domestic violence is often mired.

The 2016 campaign has highlighted the need for dads or other significant men in boys' lives to put aside discomfort about the sensitive topic and talk about sex and consent, as well as other relationship matters.

Mayor Sheryl Mai and Deputy Mayor Sharon Morgan led Whangarei's community response to the campaign by signing the White Ribbon pledge.
Mayor Sheryl Mai and Deputy Mayor Sharon Morgan led Whangarei's community response to the campaign by signing the White Ribbon pledge.

It focuses on teaching boys (mainly) to become respectful men.

White Ribbon ambassador, Northland community-builder and ex gang member Phil Paikea said the emphasis was still on "it's not ok" and "it's okay to ask for help" but the help needed to be available.

He was pleased the campaign had shifted from the violent outcome to the beginning of the abuse cycle by encouraging safe families and better life lessons.

"All this stuff starts at home. We have to start engaging with our children about how to have good relationships," Mr Paikea said.

White Ribbon was not only about women and children being victims of violence, he said.
There was a need for more safety networks for men at risk of inflicting or suffering domestic and sexual violence.

Mr Paikea has travelled New Zealand as a White Ribbon ambassador and men everywhere said there was not enough support for them.

"There is now more reporting being done so [family violence] is not so hidden but I hear the same sentiments all over New Zealand. Men are asking for more help."

Also under the White Ribbon campaign tent yesterday were workers from Northland District Health Board, Barnardos, Maori Women's Welfare League, NZ Police, Victim Support, Ngati Hine Health Trust, ACC, and more.

As well as their own material, they shared the 2016 campaign's toolkit of tips to help fathers teach boys to become respectful young men; the bullet points highlighting the need to role model respectful behaviour, engage in the raising of children and broach the sex education subject.

It has been a couple of years since Northland White Ribbon activities included the highly visible motor cycle cavalcade that threaded communities together throughout New Zealand,

Yesterday was also the United Nation's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, although the two anti-violence campaigns are complementary rather than connected.

- Northern Advocate

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