Kingaroy SHS Deputy Principal Scott Dempster and chaplain Liz Lowther give their students the tools to break down the pressures of stereotypes.
Kingaroy SHS Deputy Principal Scott Dempster and chaplain Liz Lowther give their students the tools to break down the pressures of stereotypes. Jessica McGrath

Teaching our boys to become men

KINGAROY students are being given the tools to challenge stereotypes about what masculinity really means.

Kingaroy State High School will run two programs to equip the boys in the school to realise what really makes them a man.

Deputy principal Scott Dempster hopes the programs will raise awareness, and stimulate conversations among the students in the playground, and at home.

"To teach the kids respect for others, respect for themselves, and its always good to have people they see as role models, as that can be a really powerful tool,” he said.

The Year 10 boys will be attending the National Rugby League's Voice Against Violence workshop on Friday, May 18, run by Alan Tongue, Clinton Toope and past student Matt Ballin.

The Year 9 boys, along with some St John's Lutheran students, will be listening to the Goodfellas program, which will work on busting masculinity myths, on Monday May 21.

School chaplain Liz Lowther said she liked the concept of the programs as it was important for boys to realise they did not have to act in a certain way to be manly enough.

"The myths set them up for a false sense of reality,” she said.

Both programs will focus on challenging the ideas around throwing punches and speaking up against violence against women.

Ms Lowther said school-yard violence, domestic violence and all of these myths stem from a lack of respect for oneself and others.

"Domestic violence has so many contributors, and if we can empower young boys to step up, be confident in themselves, and step into the gaps of people who want to throw punches, that's going to have a big impact in the long run,” she said.

One of the most important things for boys who are learning about having a voice against violence is to have good role models, Ms Lowther said.

"If older men role model that they don't believe in these myths, it's OK that they don't pull punches, then that lets the kids know what is OK, and what is good behaviour,” she said.

"While they are still in school, we can give them the information to get them start thinking about these things, and filling in the gaps of what they know socially.”

Programs such as these, designed to build confidence and respect, are important in the schools since mental health is becoming a big issue, with suicide being one of the top killers for men under 25, she said.