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New resources to support dads talking about respectful relationships with their sons

November 24, 2016 at 5:02 PM

*From the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse*

White Ribbon has created a toolbox for dads and short videos that focus on the top five tips for dads. This is to give New Zealand fathers the confidence and skills to talk about respectful relationships and respectful sexual relationships with their sons. 

White Ribbon New Zealand says research they commissioned has found that New Zealand fathers 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.

The videos for dads can be downloaded from the White Ribbon website. They feature Harry Ngata and Richie Hardcore and cover:

  • Role modelling and walking the talk
  • Active involvement and playing a part
  • Age adjustment and knowing where they’re at
  • Respect as a behaviour and breaking it down
  • Learning from you and having those talks

White Ribbon’s four toolboxes are: respectful relationships (toolbox for guys), start with respect (toolbox for young guys), raising respectful sons (toolbox for dads) and bringing up boys who respect (toolbox for young dads).

Speaking about the research, says White Ribbon researcher and ambassador Garth Baker said, “During interviews with men in 2015 we learnt 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.”

This found that fathers 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.’

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,” said Mr Baker.

“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’s five top actions for fathers are:

  • 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.

Key White Ribbon messages are:

  • 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 more information on White Ribbon 2016, see the previous NZFVC news story White Ribbon NZ campaigns on respectful relationships in 2016.

Category: White Ribbon Day