Hear from the experts

Below is a collection of video messages from parenting educators. Educators reflect on their experiences, the influence adults have on young people and provide tips to get you started on having conversations about respect.

My name is Doctor Justin Coulson. I’m a dad to six daughters. I’m a parenting author and researcher.

This issue of domestic violence, and respect – respect for all people but particularly respect towards women – is such a personal issue for me. I have six daughters and I want them to grow up in a society where they are respected for who they are.

This campaign really highlights the things that we accidentally say; the things that we don’t mean to say; or the things that we say without even thinking about them. Some of those things can actually promote disrespect, and disrespect can eventually lead to violence.

But when we stop it at the start – when we stop disrespect right where it comes out of our mouth, or out of the mouth of our children or one of the students that we look after or one of the kids in our coaching team – we can actually stop it right there so it never gets to the violent stage.

Starting the conversation
Having conversations about this with our children can be really, really tough. Sometimes we lack the confidence or we’re not quite sure what to say, or we’re worried that if we talk about one of these tough things that we’re going to harm the relationship that we have with our children. It’s a delicate balance, but if we don’t have the tough conversations now they only get tougher.

But here are some other things that I think are useful. Number one: we should call it when we see it. We should stop it at the start. In a respectful way we should say ‘that was disrespectful I wonder if you can think of a better way to say what you just said’.

The second thing we can do is we can teach our children to establish really clear limits and boundaries. We do it for ourselves and we do it with them and help them to do it for themselves. So we teach them that certain things are not okay, and if somebody does something to them that’s disrespectful, that they are equipped and have the confidence to also say ‘that’s not okay – that’s disrespectful’.

Respect starts with kindness
This is going to sound almost ridiculously simple but if we want to stamp out disrespect, we’ve just got to be kind. Now I know that that’s not scientific, and I know that we don’t need a 20 page – or a 400-page report – to say it, but be kind. Because underlying all respect is a recognition that another person is a human and we need to treat them well, we need to treat them kindly.

If we want respectful relationships, if we want respectful communities; respectful schools; respectful families; respectful people – it starts with one thing: kindness.

Anybody who has influence over children, whether they’re and aunty or and uncle, or whether they’re a school teacher or a religious leader, or whether they’re a sports coach, or whether they’re a neighbour: we all have the opportunity to do something to promote respect – and to call disrespect when we see it. And really, that’s all we need to do.

Violence against women. Let’s stop it at the start.
respect.gov.au for tools and resources to help start a conversation.

Hi, I’m Michael Grose, parenting educator and Director of parentingideas.com.au and the author of ten books for parents. I’m the father of two girls and also have a boy and now I have three grandkids, so two granddaughters and a grandson. So obviously as a dad and grandfather of boys and girls, I want my girls and granddaughters to feel safe and also I want my sons and grandson to treat women fairly and respectfully. As a professional I’ve been working in the field for about 25 years, I’ve seen the impact that disrespectful behaviours and attitudes has on girls and I can see how easily the whole sort of attitude is reinforced at home, because respect starts at home.

Teaching girls to expect respect
As soon as you have a child you become a conscious role model. So you need to be really aware of things you say about other people, the things you say about yourself as well, because kids are picking up their attitudes. Really you are a window to their world in lots of ways, so you really got to be aware of the things you say about girls, things you say to your sons about how they treat girls. Also I think it’s really important that you are really aware of the messages you give girls around sexuality, around relationships, around how you negotiate no and how you say no.

Empowering boys and girls to ask for help
I’m a big believer in behaviour rehearsal. What we know about behaviour rehearsal, if you tell a child of any age to do something they probably won’t do it, but if you run through a little bit of a script – hey try this – they’re more likely to do it. So that notion of behaviour rehearsal is an important and underestimated strategy to help girls and boys to ask for help, and it’s also recognising when that comment, that behaviour makes me feel unsafe and that recognition is important and that’s the sort of thing we can do in everyday context at home.

Violence against women. Let’s stop it at the start.
respect.gov.au for tools and resources to help start a conversation.

Hello I’m Doctor Rosina McAlpine and I’m a busy working mum and I’m also a parenting educator, so I love empowering parents with the tools and resources so they can have empathic, positive parenting outcomes for their kids.

It’s also important to me as a mum. I just want the best outcomes for our son, and so by empowering him to be a kind and caring human-being and making a difference in the world, and having a safe place for him to be, is very important.

Encouraging open conversation
If you raise your children in a way that the relationship comes first, it’s not about discipline and punishment, it’s about me and you being connected as a family – that’s what we do. So you can come to me anytime to talk about anything. And of course if you’ve got that situation where your child is not scared to come to you to talk to you; that if they’ve made a mistake or made a poor choice – or if they’re even thinking about making a poor choice – they’re not scared, they don’t get disciplined or punished, they are treated with empathy and you’re there to educate them.

Teaching respect by example
A conversation is the beginning but not the end. So we want to role model behaviours because what our children see is what they’re going to do in the world. We know that when children are young, they spend a lot of time with their parents and they have a lot of what’s called ‘mirror neurons’ and that sounds technical but it’s actually not; it just means they mirror us, so that’s how they learn. So if they’re seeing and experiencing respectful behaviour, if they are learning the values from their parents about making sure that girls and boys are seen as equal and that violence is not acceptable and that there are lots of collaborative and cooperative ways that we can behave so that we don’t have to hurt others to get our way, then I think that’s really important as a parent.

Violence against women. Let’s stop it at the start.
respect.gov.au for tools and resources to help start a conversation.