Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

White Ribbon Day 2016: Respectful relationships and sexual consent education key

Fathers of teenagers in New Zealand rarely discuss the importance of consent and knowing when it's okay to have sex with someone with their sons, new research has revealed.

But they are happy to speak about the issue with their teenage daughters.

In 2015 White Ribbon commissioned the research which involved interviews with men across the country and the results were announced today on the eve of the annual White Ribbon Day.

It emerged that fathers were uncomfortable talking to their sons about respectful sexual relationships.

"To find out more we commissioned Research New Zealand to discover what topics fathers were comfortable talking to their sons and daughters about," said White Ribbon Researcher Garth Baker.

The research revealed that just 22 per cent of Kiwi dads interviewed "regularly" discussed the importance of consent and knowing when it is okay or not okay to engage in sexual activity with someone with their teenage sons.

In comparison, 66 per cent who regularly discussed "doing well at school" with their boys.

"These findings are concerning," Baker said.

"Because our sons want and need to hear this information from their dads and parents. If dads don't talk to their sons, they will learn from peers, media and pornography."

Baker said pornography typically showed aggression against women and it intensifies sexist and violence-supportive attitudes and behaviours, as well as increasing sexually aggressive behaviour.

Fathers needed to counter this with positive talk about consent and showing respect.

Baker said the research also found that fathers with a teenage daughter were twice as likely to "regularly" discuss the importance of consent their daughter, than their teenage son.

"There is classic double standard with daughters," Baker said.

"Dads often want to protect their daughters and therefore have conversations with the aim of keeping them safe. But when it comes to their sons, dads too often think boys will be boys and lack the confidence and skills to have what are vital conversations.

"We can't expect girls to take all the responsibility for their sexual safety; we need to teach our boys to behave respectfully and legally.

"As men we can influence the attitudes and behaviour of our sons by talking about, and demonstrating respectful relationships. This emphasises the values and behaviours we want instead of violence and sexual violence."

In a bid to help Kiwi dads gain the confidence and skills to address the topic of content and respectful relationships with their sons White Ribbon designed a toolbox for fathers with tips, short videos and information.


The White Ribbon Pledge

Video

"I will stand up, speak out and act to prevent men's violence towards women."

That is the pledge White Ribbon want all Kiwis to take tomorrow on their annual awareness day tomorrow.

One in three New Zealand woman will experience violence from their partner in their lives - and many more will be bullied and psychologically abused.

White Ribbon Day is part of an international campaign led by men to end violence against women and is held every year on November 25.

This year's campaign message is about respectful relationships - specifically that a respectful relationship requires equality, communication and consent.

White Ribbon ambassador Mark Longley, whose 17-year-old daughter Emily was murdered by her former partner in May 2007 after enduring months of physical and psychological abuse, said this year's campaign message was crucial.

Emily was murdered in 2011 by the boyfriend she was trying to leave, following months of abuse.

Since then her father has campaigned against intimate partner violence, particularly towards women and between young people.

Longley said understanding respectful relationships was a powerful step towards stopping violence towards women.

"Most men treat women with respect," he said.

"But the biggest cause of violence is the belief that men have more rights and power than women.

"This campaign asks men to challenge those ideas and treat women how they would like to be treated, and let go of the feeling that we have to be in charge."

This year White Ribbon have also focused on male behaviour during conflict and demonstrated that communicating was key to a good relationship.

"Conflict happens, but dealing with it respectfully makes all the difference," Longley explained.

"We want to make the information on respect as accessible as possible, so we've also created a toolbox which contains practical tips on how to treat women equally, communicate respectfully and have a respectful sexual relationship.

"We see this work as a protection against violence, and we're asking men to download the toolbox and then take The White Ribbon Pledge."

Take the pledge HERE.


Buy Hollie Smith's new single Please, which she has donated to White Ribbon to help raise funds and awareness around violence by men towards women during their 2016 campaign.

Hollie Smith's new single Please. Photograph/supplied.
Hollie Smith's new single Please. Photograph/supplied.

The facts: violence against women in New Zealand
• One in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives
• Less than 20 per cent of abuse cases are reported
• More than 3500 convictions are recorded against men each year for assaults on women
• On average, 14 women a year are killed by their partners or ex-partners
• Police attend a family violence incident every 5-and-a-half minutes
• Family violence accounts for half of all reported serious crime
• In 2015 police responded to more than 110,000 family violence incidents

Respectful relationships - the White Ribbon message
• Say yes to respectful relationships and no to violence towards women
• Respectful relationships require equality, communication and consent
• Violence is not just physical
• Men are part of the solution
• You can help fix this problem by taking The Pledge to stand up, speak out and act to prevent men's violence towards women

Five top actions for fathers:
• Role model respectful behaviour. Show you respect your partner as an equal and communicate respectfully.
• Be actively involved in raising your kids. This makes them better people and makes you a better person too.
• Start developing their respectful behaviour early and adjust to their development.
• Talk about respect as a behaviour. Describe what they can do to show respect.
• Know they'll appreciate learning from you. Kids typically want more sex education than they get.

If you're in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you
• Run outside and head for where there are other people
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you
• Take the children with you
• Don't stop to get anything else
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence
• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz

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- NZ Herald

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