03 May Men, it is our responsibility.
Lives cut short, the innocence of children crucified, families torn by grief as parents prepare for the funerals of their daughters and grandchildren and media outlets decry the failure of systems that failed to protect families against the scourge of domestic violence.
Fingers are pointed at the lack of funding for domestic violence programs that provide safety for women and their children or programs to deal with perpetrators of the violence. Fingers are pointed at police systems and at failures in the judicial system to adequately provide protection. Certainly, the community does need the support of all levels of government in providing funding and safe spaces for women and families. Women and children do need police and Judicial systems to provide them with the best protection possible and for these systems to be reviewed to ensure this happens.
Yet, the answer is not the total responsibility of governments, local, State and Federal, nor is it the total responsibility of the police or the Judicial system. The answer lies in my responsibility and in your responsibility as my fellow man to model and teach our young men how to be men who are strong in their respect and compassion for women and children.
An article on the front page of the West Australian begins with the words “An evil father….”. Let me be clear, the actions of the father were evil and horrendous but labelling him “an evil father” allows us as men to think “well I am not like that”. We may not be, and we still have the responsibility as men and fathers to teach our sons to be respectful and compassionate, so they do not become “evil men”.
When compassion is seen as weakness in a man, when a man’s ego is so fragile that he demands respect to assure himself he is a man and cannot reciprocate by being respectful of another person’s boundaries and life we will always be at risk of violence.
Men, it is our responsibility to teach the younger men in our lives the dignity of respect and compassion. It is our responsibility, as a community of men to stand up against the anger that so often lives at the heart of our fellow men and say – enough!
– Written by David Kernohan, Director of Youth Legal Services