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Kids Think Violence Against Women Is Justifiable

Kids Think Violence Against Women Is Justifiable

A study of schoolchildren in Glasgow, Scotland, revealed some extremely disturbing findings: violence against women was perceived as justifiable if there was a “reason” behind it (anything from having an affair to being late making tea).  The children also expected women to curtail ambitions after getting married.

The study, admittedly, was limited.  Focusing on 89 schoolchildren in five different Glasgow schools, the sample size was extremely small and focused, and we can’t accurately draw larger conclusions about what children of other ages or from other communities believe about domestic violence.  But the results are still worrying, simply because they were so overwhelming.

“The children didn’t agree with violence,” researcher Nancy Lombard explained, “but gave reasons to try to justify it if the woman had done something ‘wrong’.  The old saying of ‘If he pulls your pigtails it means he likes you’, translates into violence in adulthood which girls accept as normal.”

Lombard also reported that “sexual stereotypes were limiting and modifying girls’ behaviour to accommodate boys and men.”  Girls were still kept out of spaces like the soccer field (despite the fact that, as I wrote about earlier this week, playing sports as a child seems to have extremely beneficial consequences for women).  “They are still told they can’t play football because they are a girl,” Lombard said.

If anything, this study indicates how easily children internalize stereotypes and attitudes toward violent behavior perpetuated by role models or the media.  Lombard’s calls for “work with children to start early to encourage respectful relationships, challenge violent behaviour and break down gender stereotypes” seems like good advice, even if the results of this same study might be less extreme elsewhere – and who knows, they might not be.

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Photo from Lisa Norwood's Flickr photostream.

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135 comments

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10:49AM PST on Feb 15, 2013

It is a natural instinct in kids to feel that their mothers are there to serve them. That is one of the things that education is about - to acquaint kids with the reality of life around them and with the norms that make up our society. But there are many women who feel guilty about teaching children these kind of lessons and would rather pander to their desires and instincts. Why then, should any child, when asked, not feel justified in wishing his or her mother punished if she does not come up with the goods?

To me the results of such a study come as no surprise at all. It is one of the reasons we expect a certain maturity for a person to take an active part in the decision making of a civilised society.

8:30AM PST on Feb 15, 2013

I would hope that study is wrong, but it was done in Scotland to where I've never been. I sincerely hope that grown men and women there have better sense that to be that ignorant. I'm shocked that some child would feel that being late for tea justified physical violence. OMG! what was that child told/shown. Maybe I'll change my mind about visiting there

1:37AM PST on Feb 15, 2013

It starts with parenting. Many children and our youth today are simply emotionally,intellectually and psychologically stunted. Disturbing.

6:21AM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

From the "make me a sammich" generation.

10:56AM PST on Feb 27, 2011

Wow--who is raising these little losers? Yet another generation of wrong thinking! Make kids learn respect already!!

8:24AM PDT on Jul 6, 2010

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4:37PM PDT on Mar 25, 2010

Have we so decimated our society that we are still looking for ways to blame the victim? We need to teach more responsibility toward our fellow human being, at all stages. Oh, I forgot; we still have Republicans and Tories.

9:00AM PST on Mar 2, 2010

i'm shocked!

7:48PM PST on Feb 28, 2010

Violence is never okay.

7:46PM PST on Feb 28, 2010

Thanks for the post.

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