Program helps curb domestic violence

NEW figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics show men aged 20 to 29 are the most likely group to face court on charges of assault.

The results may not be surprising to some people, but according to Darmin Cameron, from the Men and Family Centre in Lismore, there are a 'complex variety of reasons' behind the statistics.

Last year 14,039 cases of assault went before the courts, with men accounting for 11,449 of those.

Men aged 20 to 29 were responsible for 4138 of those charges.

Mr Cameron is a facilitator with the award-winning MEND program - Men Exploring New Directions.

It is an 18-week course that deals with issues of violence with men, offering skills and tools in anger management.

Some of the clients in the program have been given a court order to attend, others simply want to do something about their behaviour.

Mr Cameron traces the increase in violence attributed to men back to the women's movement in the 1960s.

“Equality is a good thing, but many men were given no direction or education about how to fill the void and how to be a new man in the new world,” he said.

He said a lack of good role models was also a socialising factor for young men.

“We live in a society where force is used to control everyone,” Mr Cameron said.

“When you look at world leaders like George Bush, or the last Australian leader John Howard, you see people who use force to get what they want.

“Who are our heroes? Football players who regularly get drunk and commit acts of violence against women.

“At school, force is used to control children. It's a case of 'you do this or else', rather than instilling in them a sense of responsibility and good communication skills.”

Mr Cameron said the lack of a formal rite of passage from adolescence to manhood meant many boys were initiating themselves.

“They are taking part in inappropriate risk-taking activities such as heavy drinking, substance abuse and sexual promiscuity,” he said.

“When you can drink a carton of beer, that's something that differentiates you as being a man.”

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