Young minds must change

NEW findings from peak prevention organisation Our Watch have found more than a quarter of young people hold attitudes that put them at risk of perpetrating or tolerating violence against women.

Troubling statistics like this have prompted the group, which is pushing for an end to violence against women and their children, to launch a new campaign with the message "you can't undo violence".

The group's research revealed many young people held "disturbing" gender attitudes that supported violence against women, as a third of people aged 12 to 24 did not think exerting control over someone was a form of violence.

One in four thought it was "pretty normal" for a guy to pressure a girl into sex and a quarter did not think it was serious if a "normally gentle" guy slapped his girlfriend when he was drunk during an argument.

Our Watch ambassador and former AFL star Luke Ablett said it was crucial to redefine masculinity and call out sexist behaviour or jokes that diminish or belittle.

He said reaching gender equality was key, as without it relationships become controlling, and a quarter of young people said someone had "crossed the line" with them in a relationship.

Lisa O'Reilly, a member of Our Watch's digital youth committee, said social stereotypes about girls and boys could foster inequality in relationships.

The 19-year-old said couples needed to respect each other and communicate honestly about their relationships.

"We need to break down those barriers, so hopefully it won't be a norm in the future," she said.

"I hope ... as people start to realise and talk about how this isn't OK, we will stop seeing so much acceptance and turning a blind eye to violence against women."

She said she experienced vast differences in the way she and her younger brother were treated while he was allowed to go out, she was expected to do more cooking and cleaning.

In her relationship, she said some of her boyfriend's questions like asking her to dress a certain way did cross the line in terms of respect.

"It is important to make sure that you both change equally and together, instead of one person being in control," she said.

The You Can't Undo Violence campaign will use a series of compelling images to deliver the message that violent and controlling behaviour is something that lives with the people involved forever.

Like a tattoo it leaves a mark that is not easily removed and likely to be regretted later on.

- Details: If you or someone you know is experiencing violence or sexual assault, phone 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.


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