I chuckled at the slogan on his T-shirt – ''nothing can scare me, I've got daughters''.
As a mother of daughters, I sympathised. The question is: how do our beautiful, argumentative, eye-rolling and door-slamming daughters grow into women who keep domestic violence to themselves as a shameful secret? How do they become women who don't report assault or rape?
Rosie Batty transformed her tragedy into an immeasurable service, not only by enabling society to understand the prevalence of violence against women, but also creating a wider conversation so the person on the street can say categorically ''this is wrong''.
It is wrong one in three Australian women have experienced physical violence, one in four emotional abuse and one in five sexual violence. It is wrong 89 women were killed by their current or former partner in just two years in Australia.
As an educationalist, I tend to go back to first principles, to look at prevention rather than cure. I believe if we can equip our sons and daughters for the future we may be able to prevent some of these sad situations.
JoAnn Deak, an American psychologist who researches brain development, believes boys and girls process, and react to, strong emotion differently. In a serious, but amusing study, she asked a number of adolescent boys and girls what they were thinking when they had their first kiss.
The girls reported thoughts like, ''Does this mean he likes me? Does my breath smell? Am I doing this right?'' The boys said simply, ''Think?''
In my experience as a teacher, boys tend to blame circumstances for their actions. They may say they were provoked or hassled, that the other boy hit them first, and that the other team weren't playing fair. We tend to excuse boys' energy and aggression; ''boys will be boys''. We encourage our daughters to adjust accordingly. Girls learn to hide their true capability if they gain better results at school than boys.
Last November the federal government released research into family violence that surveyed children and adults. The results were disturbing.
Former Victorian Police Commissioner Ken Lay says he cried when he read girls as young as 10 years were diminishing the seriousness of the abuse they received from boys. The girls were reported as saying, ''it wasn't that bad, it wasn't as though he punched her''.
The research showed that while 96 per cent of Australians condemn domestic violence, underlying attitudes seemed to be entrenched. It found blaming the victim was so automatic, many did not realise that they were doing it. Those interviewed would say ''it takes two to tango'' or ''she must have done something wrong''. Young men excused violence with phrases like ''he was having a bad day'' or ''he just doesn't know when he goes too far''.
Malcolm Turnbull said of the research: ''All disrespect for women does not end up with violence against women but let's be clear, all violence against women begins with disrespecting women''.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter said the research confirms concerns he had as a crown prosecutor before entering politics. He says ''there is a strange masculine passivity towards violence and it sort of pervades all levels of society''.
So, can we begin to change these embedded attitudes by thinking about how we deal with our children as they grow up? As a mother and a teacher, I hope so.
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