If we are to win the fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), there needs to be a shift in the way children are raised.
This is the opinion of Israel Sekgale from Child Welfare’s Benoni office. Child Welfare South Africa is a non-profit organisation that advocates for the development of children’s rights in South Africa.
Sekgale said parents must teach boys from the onset that violence is not how problems are sorted out.
“The world doesn’t need men who can wrestle a buffalo anymore. Instead, boys and men need to be able to communicate,” he said.
Sekgale said one of the ways in which toxic masculinity can be ended is by parents eliminating gender roles in the household. He said in one of his cases, he had to deal with a man who refused to do any domestic chores. This mentality must be tackled at an early age, said Sekgale.
“Parents often treat girls and boys differently. They teach girls to be gentle and obedient, and to consider other people’s feelings. Boys are taught to be assertive, strong and to hide their feelings. Children need to know that both boys and girls can show how they feel, be strong and assertive and solve problems without violence.”
Sekgale said fathers should not just contribute financially but should be participants and active role models in their children’s lives. “They can be nurturing beings from the start, adults who can say: ‘I am not always the boss. I sometimes cry. But I am still strong’.”
Sekgale’s tips for parents:
- Make sure that both boys and girls help at home.
- Encourage both girls and boys to give their opinions.
- Encourage boys and girls to show and talk about all their feelings, even if they want to cry.
- Do not tell your children, ‘Girls do this and boys do that’
- Apply the same discipline to boys and girls.
- Do not excuse your children’s behaviour by saying, ‘That’s what boys or girls do’
- Teach boys and girls that they have the right to say no.
- Teach boys and girls to respect each other and that being of one gender does not give rights to manipulate or control others of a different gender.
- Remember that the parent/caretaker of a child is a role-model whose behaviour may be emulated.
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