Violence Against Men

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:43 pm on 10th June 2010.

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Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour 4:43 pm, 10th June 2010

I intended my contribution to be a serious one, and I hope that that is how it came over. I wanted to say things that some people might not agree with, but I genuinely wanted to engage with what I think is a serious debate. Although Hugh O'Donnell suggested that the debate was polarised, I was trying to put in context the experience of individual victims of domestic abuse, in relation to policy.

I am a bit concerned about some of the comments that were made about my attitude and the attitude of my party. Mary Scanlon talked about the impact on children and seemed to suggest that my position is that we should discriminate against the children of male, rather than female, victims. That is simply not true. Pioneering work was done by the previous Executive and continues to be done to support those who want to work with children—boys and girls—who have lived with domestic abuse. Children are not screened out because it was a man who complained that he was a victim of female abuse.

Mary Scanlon also conflated a separate issue, which is our capacity to reach out to boys who witness domestic abuse. It is simply not true that I do not want those boys' voices to be heard. Indeed, I have been vocal over many years in attacking the lazy analysis that there is a circle of violence whereby boys who witness violence will go on to be violent men. I have been vocal in condemning that approach because I have worked with young boys and I know adult males who have lived in households where there was domestic abuse. They tell us that it is to their abiding shame that they could not protect their mothers, and they do not know what to do because of that.

The idea that Labour members would support a policy that did not give voice to those boys or that we would not recognise that, whatever the situation, there is a critical role in addressing children's needs is frankly offensive. Members should reflect on that. Regardless of the other issues, we should all welcome the progress that we made in addressing children's needs and recognising that dimension.