Boys thinking it's OK to hit girls demands ongoing community education
A new study finding 1 in 3 teenage boys think it’s “no big deal to hit a girl” is evidence that the “Violence Against Women: Australia says No” campaign should have been maintained by the Rudd Government, Sophie Mirabella MP, Shadow Minister for Women & Youth said today.
“There has now been a 12 month void in the public education campaign while the Rudd Government formed a new Council and gave them the task of coming up with a new Plan. For political reasons Labor dumped the “Violence Against Women- Australia says No” campaign, but they failed to put anything else in it’s place.”
“The disturbing thing is that the study found the strongest support for these sort of unacceptable attitudes in 12-14 year olds – the very youngest of the survey participants. It is clear we need to be vigilant and keep up the public education campaign,” Mrs Mirabella said.
“The Government admitted during Senate Estimates last month that it will likely be February before a new public education campaign in high schools about ‘respectful relationships” even begins to get underway. That will mean an unacceptable 15 month void.”
Mrs Mirabella said she was also deeply concerned with the survey result which found that almost a third of girls in year 10 have experienced unwanted sex.
“Clearly the results of this survey show we have a serious problem. It’s a problem with the basic attitude of respect for women and we have to urgently tackle this pressing social issue. The Government can’t afford to be sleeping at the wheel for 15 months on something as fundamentally important as this,” Mrs Mirabella said.
“It is all well and good that a new Council has been formed, that a process of consultation is underway, and that a new National Plan is being developed. But I do not understand why the Government has left a public education void in the meantime. This issue needs to be at the forefront of people’s minds.”
Mrs Mirabella said she supported the call by the White Ribbon Foundation for federal and state governments to introduce violence prevention programs in all universities and schools as a priority.
“Young Australian men and boys need to know that our society takes a “zero tolerance” approach to any violent or demeaning actions against women. And our young women and girls need to know that they should not put up with that sort of behaviour.”
“I urge all parents to take the opportunity on White Ribbon Day next Tuesday to talk to their children about this issue. In the meantime, the Government needs to explain why it plans to leave a 15 month void in the public education campaign. It’s just not good enough.”