EDITORIAL: Breaking cycle of violence starts in the classroom

Editorial
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Signage for State Forest Road is seen in Scarsdale near Ballarat, Victoria, Tuesday, April 9, 2024. Lachlan Young, a 21-year-old man has been charged with murder after 23-year-old Hannah McGuire’s body was found in a burnt out car in Victorian bushland near State Forest Road in Scarsdale.
Signage for State Forest Road is seen in Scarsdale near Ballarat, Victoria, Tuesday, April 9, 2024. Lachlan Young, a 21-year-old man has been charged with murder after 23-year-old Hannah McGuire’s body was found in a burnt out car in Victorian bushland near State Forest Road in Scarsdale. Credit: JAMES ROSS/AAPIMAGE

Another woman dead, allegedly at the hands of a man who professed to love her.

This time, Ballarat’s Hannah McGuire, just 23. Police say she was murdered by her ex-boyfriend Lachlan Young, 21. Her body was found in a burnt-out car on a quiet bush road.

Again, the nation reacts with horror. But the shock is wearing off. Because this keeps happening, again and again and again.

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According to domestic violence prevention advocacy group Our Watch, Ms McGuire is the 17th woman killed or allegedly killed by a current or former partner in Australia this year. And we’re only in April.

But we cannot become inured to stories of women being killed. We mustn’t turn away from the horror.

The identity of the woman whose bdy was found in a burnt-out car off a road in regional Victoria has been identified as 23-year-old Hannah McGuire.
The identity of the woman whose bdy was found in a burnt-out car off a road in regional Victoria has been identified as 23-year-old Hannah McGuire. Credit: Georgina Noack/GoFundMe

If that happens, we accept that the deaths of these women are unavoidable. And that is simply not the case.

There is more we can do to stop women being killed and men becoming killers.

Because no one is born to be a killer, just as no one is born to be a victim.

Men who grow up to kill women are often that way because somewhere along the way they’ve been corrupted by forces around them.

They soak up all the hateful, misogynistic and destructive attitudes modelled to them by others and grow up to repeat and perpetuate them.

Young boys grow up to be angry, violent men who believe women owe them time, bodies and servility.

And girls grow up to be women who are belittled, abused, threatened and murdered.

We need to stop the cycle.

Teaching children how to navigate relationships with others is just as important as teaching them how to add and subtract or construct a sentence.

From 2023, consent education has been mandatory in Australian schools. That was an important step. But consent is only one part of respectful relationships.

Turning boys into decent men requires teaching them empathy, communication skills and much more.

That’s not to say we can outsource our obligations entirely to schools. All of us have a role to play in calling out the misogynistic attitudes and toxic masculinity that allow violence against women to thrive.

Because there’s nothing harmless about the little “jokes” which denigrate women, or in making excuses for the man who belittles or abuses others. All of this feeds into our culture of violence.

As Our Watch chief executive Patty Kinnersly says, our outrage isn’t enough. We need to match it with actions.

“This is Australia, this is a first-world country. We cannot continue down this path of violence against women when we know it is preventable and it is based on respect and equality for women,” she said.

“I think the key point we are at now is people have to stop thinking this is happening over there or in someone else’s family or community.”

We need to recognise this for what it is — a national emergency which is taking women’s lives.

Responsibility for the editorial comment is taken by The Nightly Editor-in-Chief Anthony De Ceglie.

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