Violence is Wrong
Chris Thomason, Chaplain; Kelly Keall, Community Engagement Co-ordinator
We all know that violence is wrong. Violence against loved ones is one of our communities’ biggest challenges, and the worst kind of wrong.
Study after study and article after article all tell us a similar thing. That statistics indicate that Christian families have similar, and in some cases greater, rates of violence to those of the rest of our community. All four Gospels and some of Paul’s letters remind us to love our neighbour as ourselves, but this is not a new concept, as loving your neighbour as yourself is also in the Hebrew Bible, Leviticus 19:18b. So, given that this instruction is frequently quoted in our ancient text, why is it still a problem today and how do we tackle it?
We don’t have the answer, but can confidently say if we do nothing, the situation will continue and most likely get worse. Perhaps the answer is we need to try lots of techniques, interventions and programs.
I am happy to say Anglicare WA is doing something. In fact, lots of things.
Last financial year, Anglicare WA supported almost 3,000 people through family and domestic violence (FDV) services alone. These services include intensive counselling for children who have experienced violence at home, a women’s refuge and men’s behaviour change programs.
Most of our FDV services act as ‘secondary prevention’ meaning that they aim to stop violence that is occurring or has occurred and to stop violence from escalating.
This is crucial work that ensures survivors are no longer victimised and are supported in recovery.
While this secondary prevention work is life changing in many cases, we are also working towards making an impact on the primary prevention front, addressing the underlying drivers of violence against women in our society, to prevent violence from occurring in the first place.
Our partnership with the Diocese and the Social Responsibilities Commission in presenting a series of workshops on family violence to lay members and clergy within the Diocese is an example of this work.
Systemic change is the key to eventually seeing a decline in the number of women experiencing violence in Australia. Without this type of primary prevention work, we will continue to see gendered violence against women.
This month, over 300,000 Western Australian children are returning to school, ready for a new year of learning. They will learn how to read, some will learn how to multiply and divide, others will learn about the history of this country or how to solve scientific equations. But schools are also a place where young people learn how to socialise with their peers and what behaviours are considered acceptable in our society and culture. These behaviours are what are being targeted by our FDV primary prevention program, It Only Takes One.
We know that 1 in 6 women report having experienced physical and/or sexual abuse before the age of 15. And that 1 in 4 young people think it’s ‘pretty normal’ for guys to pressure girls into sex. The It Only Takes One program delivers modules to students in Years 7-12 that target the behaviours and attitudes that enable gendered violence to flourish.
Modules are delivered in person or online and to date have been delivered only to Anglican schools. In 2023 we will be offering the program to government high schools at no cost. We believe that this primary prevention work is key to understanding the link between the cultural norms and attitudes that lead to gendered violence occurring at alarming rates.
Whilst this content is being delivered in schools, we know that ultimately it is the responsibility of the entire community to support this messaging and therefore help to ensure that rates of violence don’t continue to rise beyond their already alarming rate.
Remember, it only takes one.
For more information or to get your school involved head to itonlytakesone.raisely.com