Help prevent domestic violence in Truckee Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Help prevent domestic violence in Truckee Tahoe

Paul Bancroft
Special to the Sun

Attention men! This is a call to action. There is a serious problem we men can solve.

Domestic and sexual violence is no longer only a women’s issue. In fact, it is a men’s issue. “Why is that?” you ask. Since men are perpetrators of violence nearly 99 percent of the time, it is clearly a men’s issue. I am not saying all of you men have the propensity to be violent. I am saying we men have the ability and moral obligation to prevent violence.

Contrary to popular belief, we are not genetically engineered for violence; violence is a learned behavior through our socialization process. And as Paul Kivel, co-founder of the internationally recognized “Oakland Men’s Project” writes, “Men don’t suddenly appear in life armed and dangerous. It takes years and years of training to turn boys into violent men.”

Unfortunately, this training begins early. Look at recent events in our national news: a group of youths beat a fellow student to death in Chicago; a female student in Richmond, Calif. is gang raped by more than 19 boys outside their Homecoming dance.

In both incidents the violence was severe, and in both incidents bystanders looked on and did nothing, some laughing, others taking photos and videos. The apathy of witnesses to violent crimes is core to the issue of violence itself: Violence is accepted, commonplace and often rewarded.

It’s a glaring light exposing the culture of violence we have created, and the distinct roles men and women have learned to play within this culture.

This type of violence knows no racial, socioeconomic, cultural or linguistic distinctions. What it does distinguish is gender as men perpetuate the overwhelming majority of all violent acts against other males as well as females.

So gentlemen, (if we can still apply that form of address), I ask you, what is going on? What are we teaching the young boys in our lives? Why do so many boys resort to violence to deal with their emotions? Why do boys and men disrespect women so much?

What they are doing is learned behavior, and whatever is learned can be unlearned (or never taught).

As a man, it is my duty to teach my children to be kind, compassionate, communicative, and how to empathize. It is our job as men to teach the boys in our lives how to treat each other and women alike. But this can be a difficult task in a culture that is super-charged by sex, violence and power, and with many young men having difficulty discerning the difference between sex and violence.

At Tahoe Women’s Services we are reaching out to the boys in our community through various programs, such as classroom presentations and Youth Empowerment Boys Groups that we facilitate throughout most of the schools in North Lake Tahoe/Truckee.

Within the groups we discuss non-violence, healthy relationships, respect, communication skills, empathy and other related topics. We utilize nationally recognized curricula such as “MyStrength,” “In Touch with Teens” and “Mentors in Violence Prevention.”

TWS is an organization dedicated to incorporating men and women into its mission of reducing the risk of violence and promoting communities that are safe for everyone. In order to succeed, we need to engage men in the movement. I implore all men to take a stand and get involved with TWS. Show your families that you are in solidarity with the non-violence movement and with the women in your lives, and that you want your children to grow up in a violence-free environment.

The first teachers a child has are their parents. Fathers who model respect, compassion, and empathy will generally raise young boys who follow suit.

Be a man: Stop the violence.

For more information and volunteer opportunities, please contact Erin Everett at (775) 298-0182

and#8212; Paul Bancroft is a Prevention Educator at Tahoe Women’s Services and can be reached at paul@tahoewomenservices.org