Why respect is a must in school relationships

Respect is the most important building block of any relationship. In healthy relationships, respect is earned and given in order to receive it. It is something everyone deserves. People who respect each other enjoy mutual trust and support.

Dr Justin Coulson, one of Australia’s leading parenting experts and regular guest speaker at Christ Church Grammar School shares the following advice:

Teaching boys under 5

Example, example, example

If we show respect we will teach respect. This means we respect our children, we respect other adults, and we especially respect women.

Speak kindly

At this age it’s what it takes to show respect. Say please and thank you. Never say things like "shut-up" or "get lost" (or anything worse), whether to a child or adult, and regardless of gender. Respectful speaking teaches respect.

Be helpful

Teach boys (and all children) to recognise when someone needs help or feels lousy, and show them how to help.

Teaching boys from ages 5-12

Monitor media

Violent media is increasingly normal and has an undeniable desensitising impact on those who view it. While most five year olds don’t enjoy violence, by the time they’re 9 or 10, they’re all over it. Some studies show that after playing violent games or viewing violent ‘entertainment’, people are less likely to show empathy or kindness. Minimising exposure to games and movies or TV shows that promote disrespect and inhumanity can help.

Pre-arm against pornography

The average age of boys’ exposure to pornography is 11. We’re talking hardcore, violent, objectively degrading content. At around the age of 8 or 9, we must start pre-arming our boys. Let boys know that pornography exists, that people might want to show it to them, that others might think it’s funny, and that it teaches bad things. Let them know it’s not real nor reflective of what people want in healthy, functional relationships, and do not normalise exposure to porn as something that ‘all the boys do.’ Such attitudes are part of the domestic violence and disrespect problem.

Talk about the issues

When you see disrespect, talk about it. Ask your sons how it leaves them feeling. How does it make the victims feel? What are better ways of responding to it? Such conversations promote empathy and perspective, and help our boys develop social awareness and conscience.

Teaching boys from ages 12-18

Teach consent

Boys must know that they should not touch a woman without her explicit consent. Our sons must understand that no means no and we must teach our boys to be selfless and gentle, rather than selfish and entitled.

Call them on sexism

Masculinity has changed, and it needs to change more. When you catch your boys criticising women because of their maths or driving ability, or for any other gendered issue, call them on it. Let them know sexism is not cool and it is not funny.

Ultimately, regardless of everything that we say, it is what we do that makes the biggest impact on our sons’ respectfulness. Surround the boys you parent or work with with good men. Be a great example.


Why respect is a must in school relationships

Productive classrooms

Mutual respect amongst students and teachers means increased productivity. If students start from a place of trust, they will naturally follow their teacher and believe what is being taught. Trusting other students in the class will result in more meaningful collaborations when they work together. There are numerous benefits of successful teamwork for students.

Emotionally secure students

Every child deserves to be valued, feel safe and be accepted by their peers. Schools that teach respect produce emotionally secure students who respect each other. Emotional wellbeing can affect a child’s confidence, how well they manage their emotions, their concentration levels, their ability to think of others and their organisational skills.


Treating others with kindness is an important trait for children to have. Respect teaches children to be open-minded and less likely to be judgemental. Considering the diversity of modern Australia, it is vital that your child learns to be tolerant and respectful of people with different cultural backgrounds.


At Christ Church Grammar School, respect is one of our ten core values – to treat others with consideration and regard.

Strong, respectful relationships add a great deal to our lives and boys at Christ Church learn how to develop respectful relationships through The Wynne Centre for Boys’ Health and Wellbeing.

Interested in learning more? Join our live webinar on Thursday 19 March as Dr Justin Coulson speaks to the school community on the topic of Real Resilience. Click here to access the webinar, commencing at 7.00pm (WST).


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