Parents and carers against violence

Parents and carers against violence

You can make a difference by talking with your kids.

As a parent or carer, you play an important role in your children’s lives. They look to you for guidance, approval and support. Your words and actions have a huge influence on your children’s attitudes and behaviour.

You can use your influence to talk about the impacts and consequences of violence and discuss alternative ways to deal with conflict.

  • Approach the subject in a calm way, in a safe space.
  • Avoid talking about it when you or your child is angry.
  • Ask them to explain what has happened and why.
  • Try not to judge or lecture them.
  • Show empathy – imagine how they are feeling and acknowledge this.
  • Talk about the importance of managing anger. Explain how it’s ok to be angry, but it’s not ok to be aggressive.
  • If they witness violence, discuss the implications of being a bystander.
  • Listen to them. Talk about choices and let them decide what will work best for them.

You can talk with your child about the choices they can make when they feel angry or have someone trying to start a fight with them. They can:

  • walk away and take time out
  • take some deep breaths to help calm down
  • express their anger with words
  • let it go and focus on something positive
  • consider the consequences and how this is would negatively impact their life
  • listen to music
  • do some exercise or play sport to let off steam.

If they witness violence, there are other choices they can make rather than be a bystander. Talk about this and help them come up with options. They could include:

  • Trying to diffuse the situation by discouraging those involved from fighting.
  • Walking away so they don’t give them an audience.
  • Causing a distraction to divert the attention of those fighting.
  • If online, they could scroll past the video or discourage their friends from sending them fight videos (it’s illegal to create, keep, share or ask for material of a person under 18 years being subject to torture, cruelty or physical abuse).

Violence is a complex social issue that impacts the whole community and occurs in various locations in the community.

School violence is physical harm to a student or school staff. It can take the form of assault, fight or threat. It may also include damage to property. Although incidents of violence are rare in schools, they are never tolerated. There are measures in place to prevent and respond to any acts of aggression in public schools.

When violence happens in a school setting or between school students it has significant impacts on students, their families, staff, and the community. Some of the impacts

  • physical injury or psychological distress
  • disruption to classes
  • reduced sense of safety and wellbeing
  • absence from school
  • getting in trouble with the law
  • harm to the reputation of their school.

The causes of violence are complex. Each incident is different and the ‘why’ depends on the individuals involved and their circumstances.

Factors that increase the risk of violence

  • family conflict or instability
  • substance abuse
  • Social and economic disadvantage 
  • mental illness
  • exposure to violence (as a witness or victim)
  • media violence
  • poor academic performance
  • having friends who behave aggressively.

If you would like to learn about developing healthy relationships with your children, promoting respectful relationships, and managing their behaviour, there are a range of courses available from Triple P.

Young people can be exposed to violence online through video games, movies, fight videos and the media. This can be distressing and confronting. Exposure to violence online can also influence their attitude to violence and make violent behaviour seem normal.

Of particular concern is when young people film, watch, share and/or like violence between students. Often, they do not understand the implications of their behaviour and how it can promote more violence.

They may not realise their actions can:

  • add to the pain and embarrassment of those who have been hurt
  • provide an audience for those involved in the fight
  • make fighting seem normal
  • encourage more fights
  • cause other students to feel unsafe at school
  • harm the reputation of those schools with students involved in fights.

Speaking with your children about this issue helps raise their awareness. You can encourage them to empathise with those involved, consider the impact and imagine how they might feel if it was their friend being hurt. You can promote respectful relationships and discuss how they can resolve conflict without using violence.

You can also suggest alternative ways to respond when they see fights online. Instead of watching, sharing or liking the fights, they could:

  • scroll past the video
  • report the post as inappropriate on Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms (this will reduce the number of fights shown)
  • encourage their friends to send them different types of videos
  • let their friends know it’s illegal to film, share and keep videos of young people fighting.

Your support and encouragement can help them make positive choices when they are online.

For more information about navigating the digital world, visit the e-Safety website. Information about the legal consequences of filming young people fighting is available on the Legal Aid WA website.

Children under the age of 18 can still get in trouble with the law for being involved in a fight. This includes fighting someone, or for helping or encouraging someone to fight another person. The punishment will depend on how serious the charge is, if there is a criminal record, and other personal circumstances.

A child can get in trouble with the law if they:

  • organise a fight.
  • prevent the victim from getting away or from leaving the assault.
  • shout out words of encouragement. For example: yell out words like “go on, hit them”.
  • film a young person fighting.
  • post or share a video of a young person in a fight on social media.
  • keep a video of a fight involving a young person that was sent to you, whether you asked for the footage or not, or
  • ask someone to send you a video of a fight involving a young person.

Read One punch can change a life for information on the laws about fighting.

Supporting your child

It is important that your child is safe at school and feels safe. If they feel unsafe at school or have experienced aggression from another student, you can speak with their principal, teacher or another staff member.

At school there are:

  • Processes in place to ensure your child is safe and well supported while they learn.
  • Policies to foster good behaviour and respect.
  • Consequences for those who breach these policies (such as suspension or exclusion from school).

Staff can work with you and your child to:

  • develop a safety plan specifically for your child
  • seek support from other agencies, support services and community members
  • identify ways to resolve the issue
  • help identify strategies to cope with the situation
  • provide your child with someone to support them.

If your child needs someone else to speak with about how they feel, there are a number of confidential external support services for children and young people.

If your child has seen violent content online and you would like to report it or get help to remove it, you can contact eSafety Commissioner.