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Union Men Taking Action Against Domestic Violence

Coaching Boys into Men publication coverSometimes the only messages boys get are the wrong ones. Many young men need advice and direction on how to behave towards women and they want to talk to you about it. Share your experiences and let them know what you've learned.

Here's how:

Teach early

It's never too soon to talk to a child about violence. Tell him that "hands are not for hitting." Let him know how you think he should express his anger and frustration — and what is out of bounds. Talk with him about what it means to be fair, share and treat others with respect.

Bring it up

A kid will rarely approach you and ask for guidance on how to treat women. But that doesn't mean he doesn't need or want it. Try watching TV with him or listening to his music. If you see or hear things that depict violence against women, tell him what you think about it. And your job isn't done once you get the first talk out of the way. Help him work through problems in relationships as they arise. Let him know he can come back and talk to you again anytime.


Hear what he has to say. Listen to how he and his friends talk about girls. Ask him if he's ever seen abusive behavior in his friends. Is he worried about any of his friends who are being hurt in their relationships? Are any of his friends hurting anyone else?

Tell him how

 Teach him ways to express his anger without using violence. When he gets mad, tell him he can walk it out, talk it out, or take a time out. Let him know he can always come to you if he feels like things are getting out of hand. Try to give him examples of what you might say or do in situations that could turn violent.

Be a role model

Fathers, coaches and men who spend time with boys or teens will have the greatest impact when they "walk the walk." Make sure you act in a non-violent way in your relationships and that you always treat women and girls in a way that your sons can admire. Let him know how you define a healthy relationship.

1 in 5 teenage girls say they have experienced dating violence

Teach often

Use every opportunity to reinforce the message that violence has no place in a relationship.

Teach early. Teach often.

Boys are swamped with influences outside of the home — from friends, the neighborhood, television, the internet, music, the movies... everything they see around them. They hear all kinds of messages about what it means to "be a man" — that they have to be tough, be in control. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to "be a man" in a relationship. So teach boys early, and teach them often, that there is no place for violence in a relationship.

Whether you are a father, coach, teacher, uncle, older brother or mentor, you can make a real difference in a boy’s life. Teach boys that violence against women and girls is wrong.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior that someone uses against another. Abuse can be violent behavior such as hitting, punching and slapping, but it doesn’t have to be physical. It can include verbal and emotional abuse. It can also involve sexual assault. It can happen to anyone, at any age, no matter what race or religion they are, regardless of their level of education or economic background.

If you or someone you know is violent in relationships, there are programs nearby that can help. If you know children who have been exposed to violence in the home, they may be experiencing depression and anxiety. Call 1-800-799-SAFE to find out where to get help in your community.

For more information about ending domestic violence in your community, visit the Family Violence Prevention Fund website.

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