New research shows need to challenge violence supportive attitudes among youth - By Hannah Grant, media relations officer, Our Watch

11 May 2015

One in four young men believe that controlling and violent behaviours are signs of male strength.

One third of these are categorised as being on the trajectory towards potential perpetration of violence against women and girls, the remainder are comfortable with coercive and disrespectful behaviour.

These are some of the results from a survey of over 3000 young men and women commissioned by Our Watch, the national foundation to prevent violence against women and their children.

Undertaken by Hall and Partners Open Mind, the research reveals that young people are struggling to work out what healthy, respectful relationships look like.

The survey indicates that one in six 12-24 year olds believes ‘women should know their place’, and one in three believes ‘exerting control over someone is not a form of violence’. Also, more than a quarter of young people believe ‘male verbal harassment’ and ‘pressure for sex toward females’ are ‘normal’ practices.

Our Watch Chair, Natasha Stott Despoja AM said that the report reveals parents aren’t talking to their children about relationships and sex. It shows that - beyond basic anatomy and talk of STIs – relationship education is not covered adequately through the education system.

“Young people desperately want information and guidance from people they look up to, especially, parents and teachers. Instead, they get information from their friends, pornography, media and popular culture role models. These settings can perpetuate gender stereotypes and condone and encourage violence,” she said.

“Values that inform and shape relationships are formed in early childhood. The research shows a clear and urgent need for primary prevention strategies that will help young people to develop healthy, safe, equal and respectful relationships, and they need this guidance from positive influences such as parents, teachers, caregivers and coaches.

“Engaging children and young people in respectful relationships education is an intervention area that been successful internationally. It has reduced violence-supportive attitudes and ones that adhere to static gender stereotypes.

“Today, Our Watch launches The Line.

“Through online articles, resources and a social media campaign The Line will challenge rigid gender roles, gender inequality, and sexism and encourage young people to break the cycle of violence.

“Our Watch is also launching Policy brief 5 - Working with children and young people as a guide for preventing violence against women and their children.

“It outlines prevention initiatives to shape positive and equitable attitudes and behaviours at an early stage of life. It also forms the basis of our strategy of youth engagement through The Line,” said Ms Stott Despoja.

As The Line’s new Ambassador and former AFL player, Luke Ablett, explains the new campaign is about calling out behaviour that hurts someone - makes them feel frightened, intimidated or diminished.

“With a lack of popular culture role models and the majority of young Australian males accessing porn, expectations of gender roles and sex are far from realistic,” he said.

“All of this has a significant negative impact on young people’s attitudes and behaviours when it comes to relationships, sexual and otherwise. It’s a recipe for condoning violence against women and may even give rise to sexual assault.

“Over the next 18 months, The Line will implement a range of new activities to support parents and teachers.

“These efforts also reach out to our diverse community including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, and young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds,” said Mr Ablett.

The Line is an initiative under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022 and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.


For enquiries or further information: Hannah Grant, Our Watch, mobile 0448 844 930, email

*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:
“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000”


Our Watch’s (previously the Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children) purpose is to raise awareness and engage the community in action to prevent violence against women and their children.
Our Watch was conceived of and brought into existence in 2013 by the Commonwealth of Australia and the State of Victoria. The Northern Territory and South Australian governments have also since become members of the organisation.
Our Watch’s work derives from the government’s commitment to the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022 and gives expression to many of the activities in the Second Action Plan 2013–2016 – Moving Ahead.