We can all play a role
Every adult influences a child’s idea of what is right and wrong – whether we’re parents, family members, teachers, coaches, employers, community leaders or other role models.
Young people pick up on simple things like our gestures, reactions and the words we choose. They might take our words at face value and sometimes might interpret them in ways we didn’t intend, or see it as an excuse or permission to behave in a certain way.
But the good news is we can all come together and make a positive change. Small moments and small steps will move us closer to a culture free from disrespect.
Watch the video below to find out how we can all play a role in encouraging respectful attitudes in the next generation.
As a community, we know that violence against women is wrong and we’re beginning to understand that is starts with disrespect. But what role can each of us play in creating a community free from disrespect?
We need to look back to where these attitudes can form: in childhood. Young people are shaped by the world around them. The stories they hear, experiences they have and the people they look up to. They take their cues from us, the adults in their lives. The parents, family members, coaches, teachers, community leaders or managers at work. Young people pick up simple things like our gestures, reactions and the words we choose. They might take our words at face value, interpret them in ways we didn’t intend or see it as an excuse or permission to behave in a certain way.
We might be surprised to recognise some of the most common ways we excuse disrespectful behaviour without even meaning to. We play it down. Don’t worry about it, it’s not that bad. We accept aggression as part of being a boy when we say things like “boys will be boys”. We blame girls for how they’re treated when we say things like “look at what she’s wearing”. Over time, these everyday interactions shape what young people believe about how others should be treated.
What we think, do and say becomes normal for us very quickly. It’s important we regularly challenge our own views so that we’re not unintentionally encouraging negative attitudes in the next generation. It can be as simple as thinking about the impact of what we say and do, questioning an off the cuff joke or calling out disrespect when we see it and having conversations about respect with the young people in our lives.
The Stop it at the Start campaign is helping drive a national conversation about this. By reaching out to those in your local community, you can help spark a powerful change. There are many ways to do this. You could run an event at your local sporting club, get it on the agenda in your workplace, start a community-wide initiative or keep an eye out for teachable moments on the playground.
The respect.gov.au website has a range of tools to help you get started in your own community. You’ll find helpful resources and downloadable guides with information, activity ideas and practical tips to get started. You’ll also find a range of videos showing how people across Australia are taking action in their local areas.
We all have opportunity to leave a deep and lasting imprint, by positively influencing the next generation. Small actions and small steps by each of us can add up to a future free from disrespect and ultimately, violence against women and their children. Together, let’s stop it at the start.