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Calling all supermen -- to stop abuse

It's Saturday morning. A father looks at his son sitting at the kitchen table. He thinks of the world ahead of him and the challenges he will face. The father knows all too well that he will need strength and core values to survive a future of temptations, adversity and opportunities.The father knows he has a responsibility to his son. A responsibility beyond basic needs. A responsibility to teach him what it means to be a man.
But what is manhood in the modern day?
Being a modern man does not require a male to assume feminine traits or abandon our core defining construct: strength.
In this day and age, we need to re-define manhood to meet the demands of the modern world.
Fathers, do we teach our boys to practice respect and personal integrity? Do we teach them to demonstrate their strength as a man through positive actions of responsibility and good will? Do we teach them to refrain from violence and speak out against those who violate others?
This is true strength.Do we challenge ill-conceived models of masculinity that are rooted in power and control?
Have we made a commitment to ourselves, our families and other men to model values that teach dignity, human worth and responsibility to each other and self?
Are we absent as a teacher and role model for our sons? Are we present but not truly invested in teaching the lessons to the next generation of men? Are we failing to protect our families and our community?
Violence is a men's issue.The vast majority of violence in our society is perpetrated by men.One in three women suffers physical or sexual assault by a man at some point in her life.
Who's responsible? With few exceptions, usually men. Nine out of 10 perpetrators of physical assault are men, and they perpetrate 95 percent of all domestic violence. About 25 percent of all men will use violence against a partner in their lifetime, and almost 100 percent of those imprisoned for rape are men. Still think violence against women is just a woman's problem?
It is time we speak up and take action, not in spite of being men, but because we are men.
Statistically, many boys and girls in your local school will be victims of sexual assault before their 18th birthday.
Most will be directly impacted by interpersonal violence and some will die before they reach adulthood.
Fathers, our daughters, sisters and wives are being raped by men at an alarming rate. Every two minutes, somewhere in our nation, someone is sexually assaulted. Every 15 seconds a daughter or wife is beaten by a man.
Homicide, committed by males, is the second leading cause of death for our young people 18 to 24 in Pennsylvania.
You say: It won't happen to my family or in my community.It's not my problem? All communities, rural, urban and suburban in York County have been victimized by violence.
No exceptions.
Don't be surprised. Farmer and banker alike know that men's violence comes in all colors, classes, ethnicities and ages. Right now in our community: A daughter's rape will go unrecognized by her mother and father.
A woman on your street will cover the bruises on her face and neck with makeup before going to work.
Your neighbor will wash blood from his hands after beating his wife. A young man in your town will attempt to quiet his demons with a firearm. Much of our efforts have focused upon aiding victims, but it is time to tackle the root cause. It is time for men everywhere to deeply scrutinize and challenge concepts of masculinity that are no longer useful.
Together, we need to re-define manhood for the next generation of males.
It is our responsibility.
So today when the father watches his son leave home for school, he asks himself the question: Am I teaching my son to be a real man? As his daughter steps onto the school bus, is she safe? Or will she be the next victim of male violence?
If you are a man, please join us for our Walk-A-Mile Event, 5 p.m. May 11 in York.Details are on the YWCA-York website,
Can you show the women and girls you care about that you are willing and able to understand, act and walk in their shoes?
Rick Azzaro, LCSW is Chief Services Officer at Access-York/VAC/YWCA of York.