Is Bob McCoskrie really putting 'families first', writes Brian Gardner

Friday 25 November 2011, 6:51AM
By National Network of Stopping Violence

Is Bob McCoskrie really putting ‘families first’, writes White Ribbon Ambassador Brian Gardner – national manager of the National Network of Stopping Violence.

When Bob McCoskrie (‘Why I won't be wearing the White Ribbon’, NZ Herald, November 24) tells us that women are just as violent as men, he flies in the face of common sense. Sadly, most people are aware of the horrific toll of men’s violence to women and children. Our most high profile murders are tragically carried out by men.

Mr McCoskrie’s attempt to say it is a shared problem gets in the way of ordinary men stepping up, making a change and protecting those they most love. His comments buy into the game of not being prepared to take responsibility for our behaviour as men and support the ‘if she only knew when to shut up’ brigade.

When we talk about men’s violence to women and children at Te Kupenga – the National Network of Stopping Violence – we are not talking about people having low level conflict in their relationships. We are talking about the systematic use of threats and intimidation to create so much fear that someone will do what you want.

When we look at this level of domestic violence, the picture for all people – especially men – should leave us feeling desperately concerned. A New Zealand review of all child homicides between 1991 and 2000 found that in cases where a child was killed by their parent, 54 per cent of perpetrators were fathers. When children were killed by other people, men were the perpetrators 78 per cent of the time.

One of the most worrying things about this is that men care for children so much less than women.

· In 2005-2006, NZ Police apprehended 25,356 male family violence offenders compared to 4,135 female offenders.

· In 2005, 92 per cent of those applying for protection orders were female.

· US research found that women were seven to 10 times more likely to be seriously injured by partner violence than men.

(New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse Statistics Fact Sheet – October 2007)

Sadly, the statistics go on to paint a very gloomy picture when we talk about systematic use of violence by men to maintain power over their female partners. We need to stop wasting time arguing about whether men’s violence to women is serious because it is staring us in the face and we need to take action.

The question for all men should be not how can I avoid being responsible but what should I be doing to be part of creating a safer world. Wearing a white ribbon as a man says ‘I don’t condone violence to women’. I worry that Mr McCoskrie does not feel like he can support this message and really put ‘families first’.