It takes a village to raise a child…

Dear members of the Whitefriars College Family,

A couple of Sunday’s ago, I stood before a group of prospective parents at our College Open Day to speak about the virtues and advantages of a boy’s education. I believe it was not possible to commence this address, without first acknowledging and supporting, the growing chorus of young women who continue to show strength and courage in calling out the extremely poor behaviours of some young men in our society.

This issue presents us all with great challenges and opportunities. The opportunities come from the fact that there is inherent goodness in all our boys and therefore change and growth is possible. The challenge comes from the fact that these same young men are also capable of making very poor choices, which can lead to far reaching consequences and serious impacts on the lives of others.

There has been much said in the media and elsewhere about the significant role schools have in forming and educating students about issues of consent and respectful relationships. I fully support this view. Here at Whitefriars, over many years, we have been committed to the education of our students in relation to sexuality, respect, and the inherent dignity and worth of all people. The College’s Wellbeing program, which all students participate in weekly, has drawn on both external and internally developed programs to provide opportunities for Whitefriars students to stop, reflect, discuss, discern and develop behaviours and attitudes founded on absolute and unequivocal respect for women.

The highlighting of this issue in our society has also provided us with a timely opportunity to reflect on the programs we provide to our students. It is clear, that whilst we do offer programs related to respectful relationships and sexuality, with a focus on the dignity of women, we should be doing more. We have identified some gaps, particularly around consent, which need attention. Our staff, led by our Wellbeing team, are currently discerning a number of programs which will assist us in bridging these gaps to support the provision of a more holistic and comprehensive curriculum offering across a number of learning areas, including Wellbeing, Religious Education and, Health and Human Development, to support the growth of our young men.

In an article published this past week Adolescent Psychologist, Dr Michael Carr Greg says this…

While schools do need to re-examine what they are doing in terms of sex education and when they are doing it, it is time for parents, grandparents and adult carers to exert a steadying influence, to become the voice of reason to counter this culture of misogyny

As a father of five adult children, I have always been acutely aware of my role as a model of what it is to be a good man. Along with my wife, we are ultimately responsible for the development of our children’s moral compass. Having said that, I believe that these conversations can be difficult at times and in hindsight, as parents, we could have addressed these issues more frequently. I know too, that it is not just our words which can educate our children but, more powerfully, our actions which dictate how our children will perceive our attitudes in this space. Our children watch and remember every word we say and every action we take and therefore our role in educating our sons is particularly crucial in their development.

At Whitefriars our mission is to work in partnership with families to build a gentle man – one who knows who he is, how to take his place as a functioning member in community and how to respectfully engage with others – both men and women. The gentle man understands gender equality and what consent means and will comfortably call out all behaviours which do not respect the dignity and rights of others.

So, the message today is that this is one of partnership. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is never been more appropriate than it is right now. The messages we send, actions we take and the education we deliver needs to be aligned. To this end we are currently discerning opportunities to provide you with knowledge and resources in this space as we work together to assist you in support your son’s growth and development as a fine young gentle man of Whitefriars.


Mr Mark Murphy