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Teaching Boys to Respect Women

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Teaching Boys to Respect Women

Recent events and current statistics highlight that, as a nation, we have a serious problem when it comes to domestic violence. While there’s no easy solution, together we can do our part to stop violence against women. If you’re a parent or guardian, you can play an important role. Most studies show that a boy’s disrespect towards girls generally begins in childhood.

Disrespect shows in small behavioural ways that can often be ignored or go unnoticed. These behaviours include teasing, put-downs, verbal bullying and harassment. We can break the cycle by teaching our children to be respectful and caring toward all genders from a young age.

Start the conversation about respect early

Start by responding to your child calmly when they are disrespectful to others. The following three-step communication approach can be used from early childhood through to teen years. Let’s put it into practice.

If a boy is making fun of his sister or a female friend:


Respond calmly rather than react, asking him to stop the teasing. It’s handy to have a phrase you can rely on when under pressure. For instance, “Stop please. That’s a personal put down. We don’t use put downs in this family."


Invite your son to see the behaviour through the eyes of his sister. ‘How do you think your sister/friend feels right now?’


Provide options such as ignoring his sister or friend if she’s annoying him or providing an appropriate social script he can use to communicate his thoughts such as, “I find it annoying when you don’t share the computer”.

The acronym SEE (stop, empathise, educate) will help you remember these steps.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

When it comes to gaining academic knowledge and learning skills, parents know it takes years of consistent effort from childhood through to adolescence. In the same way, parents can take a long-term approach to teaching life skills such as respecting women, beginning right from toddler to teen.

Resources you can use

The Stop it at the Start campaign provides parents, family members and others with information and practical resources to self-reflect, and talk to boys and girls aged 10-17 about being respectful and caring. You can find videos, guides and other resources to help you have conversations with your children on the campaign website

There is so much we can do in families to develop healthy attitudes toward women. Through modelling and teaching we can change entrenched attitudes and behaviours and put an end to the cycle of violence against women.

This article was reproduced with the kind permission of Parenting Ideas

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Topics: Parenting, Behaviour, Boys

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