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New Research – Fathers don’t talk to their sons about respectful behaviour to women

November 24, 2016 at 5:03 PM

*From the White Ribbon website*

Research commissioned by White Ribbon New Zealand has found that Kiwi dads rarely discuss the importance of consent and knowing when it is OK or not OK to engage in sexual activity with someone with their teenage sons.

“During interviews with men in 2015 we learnt that fathers were uncomfortable talking to their sons about respectful sexual relationships,” says White Ribbon Researcher Garth Baker. “To find out more we commissioned Research New Zealand to discover what topics fathers were comfortable talking to their sons and daughters about.”

Kiwi dads said they least ‘regularly’ discuss the importance of consent and knowing when it is OK or not OK to engage in sexual activity with someone with their teenage sons. 22% said they regularly discuss this, compared with 66% who regularly discussed ‘doing well at school’.

Compared with other topics, this was the one that fathers were least comfortable discussing.

“These findings are concerning,” says Mr Baker “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.”

Pornography typically shows aggression against women and it intensifies sexist and violence-supportive attitudes and behaviours, as well as increasing sexually aggressive behaviour. Fathers need to counter this with positive talk about consent and showing respect. Research shows that children are being exposed at younger ages to pornography.


White Ribbon wants to give kiwi dads the confidence and skills to talk about respectful relationships and respectful sexual relationships with their sons. To facilitate this we have created a toolbox for dads and short videos that focus on the top five tips for dads. These can be downloaded at

The research also found that Dads with a teenage daughter were twice as likely to ‘regularly’ discuss the importance of consent and knowing when it is OK or not OK to engage in sexual activity with someone with their daughter, than their teenage son.

“There is classic double standard with daughters. 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,” says Mr Baker.

wtr8728-white-ribbon-richie-hardcore-harry-ngata-storyboard-4k-frame-2Five top actions for fathers:

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



  • One in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives
  • Less than 20 percent of abuse cases are reported
  • Approximately 3,500 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 over 100,000 family violence incidents a year – one every 5 minutes
  • Family violence accounts for half of all reported serious crime


  • 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 and talking to your children

For Interviews:
Garth Baker
White Ribbon Researcher and White Ribbon Ambassador

Category: White Ribbon Day