In her job as an Intensive Family Support worker for Save the Children in Katherine, Pip Gordon has witnessed first-hand how disrespect can grow, and the devastating impact of domestic and family violence.
As the mother of a 14-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter, she says it is important that respect and self-respect are nurtured in her own children.
The second phase of a campaign jointly funded by the Commonwealth, states and territories to reduce violence against women and their children was recently rolled out.
Stop it at the Start helps influencers of young people – parents, other family members, teachers, coaches, employers and role models – to encourage respectful relationships and gender equality.
Ms Gordon says there are small but significant steps we can take to break the cycle of violence.
Becoming aware of the impact of our own words and actions is a great start and taking the time to openly talk to our kids is so important.
“Children are watching and listening to us all the time, my husband and I try to make sure we don’t stick to gendered stereotypes or phrases. Even throwaway lines could be misinterpreted by younger people. It’s important to us that our children don’t grow up believing they have to abide by dated clichés,” Ms Gordon said.
“Growing up, my sister and I heard people say things like ‘he’s annoying you because he likes you’, and heard boys being called ‘princess’ if they showed emotion.
“As a community we’ve certainly made progress. I am proud of our daughter who is an enthusiastic rugby player and supported with lots of opportunities, and of our son, who is thoughtful and sensitive to others and this is acknowledged as a strength.”
When it comes to teaching children about respect, Ms Gordon believes it is a whole of community responsibility.
“Parents and family are powerful role models, but so are teachers, coaches, local business people, employers, neighbours… I think everyone has a role to play and we all have a responsibility to show what respect looks like” Ms Gordon said.
“It’s a two way of learning and developing how respect is actioned.”
“At home we try and make it a regular conversation. The kids might come home and talk about something upsetting that happened at school. We want to make sure we’re available to listen when they want to share. We definitely don’t have all the answers, but that’s OK – sometimes we’re learning together”.
For more information and resources on Stop it at the Start, visit https://www.respect.gov.au/resources/
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