When we are young our hormones rage.

Teenagers break out in spots, parents turn into authoritarian overlords and best avoided, and they get that urge. Yes, that, urge.

White Ribbon campaign organiser Rob McCann is attempting to lift the lid on subjects that are uncomfortable to talk about.

Girls who engage in sex too young, he says, are showing up in hospitals with medical complications. And some boys exposed to excessive pornography are suffering from erectile dysfunction.


He's calling for more open discussion, especially between fathers and their sons, about things that remain somewhat taboo, or at least difficult.

McCann says while protecting young adults from potential medical issues is important, what he is most drawing attention to are attitudes towards sex and towards women.

Violence towards women remains a major problem, and is rooted in unhealthy attitudes.

Ubiquitous and uncontrolled access to pornography has exacerbated the problem.

Turning off the Wi-Fi router is not the answer, McCann says. Sitting your son down and asking him to open up about what he has seen floating about the internet is.

That will not be easy for some parents.

And for some they will find themselves questioning their own outlook. Many of our attitudes were formed in days when the likes of Bennie Hill got laughs with low-grade slap-and-tickle – acceptable in its day, but not today.

Today is the day of Whanganui's White Ribbon march, and the day the White Ribbon Riders thunder into town.


It is a chance for us all to reflect on our behaviours and attitudes. Or at least to march in support of a cause where the goals are simple, but the issues seemingly far more complex.