Boys become the men we teach them to be

This White Ribbon Day (November 25th), let’s prevent men’s violence towards women by focusing on teaching and role modeling ‘Healthy Masculinity’ and ‘Respectful Relationships’ for our young men.

White Ribbon Manager Rob McCann

“Boys will be boys is usually used as an excuse for poor behaviour,” says Rob McCann, White Ribbon Manager.  “We need to flip the phrase on its head and change the narrative and demonstrate what boys will be boys should mean.”

“Many of the hyper masculine stereotypes hurt men as well as women. If we look at violence, not just against women, but also between men, incarceration rates, mental health struggles and suicide statistics it is obvious these perceived rules of masculinity are broken. We need to give our sons and all the boys in our lives, the tools for a healthy violence-free life, says Mr McCann.

New White Ribbon Ambassador Floyd Ormsby agrees. “As a young man I had no role models and lived with violence and abuse. That helped to create an angry young man that hurt people and destroyed relationships. We can turn that around if we can show kindness towards our young men, and demonstrate to them what a respectful relationship looks like and let them know that men can be caring, supportive, ethical, respectful, friendly, generous and awesome.”

Floyd Ormsby, 63, was this year awarded the Outstanding Coaching Contribution Award by Auckland Rugby Referees Association along with being recognised by Rutherford College for outstanding coaching and volunteering.

Floyd’s journey to becoming a respectful husband the third time around, and role model to young men and women has not been an easy one. He was the youngest of four, his mother passed away when he was only three years old and he moved from household to household, suffering abuse, both physical and psychological. It was a traumatic childhood and Floyd had committed his first burglary by eight and was subsequently shipped off to a boarding school. That was both the best and worst part of his childhood. He knew where he was going to sleep and when the next hot meal would come, but Floyd was also sexually abused while at the school.

Floyd Ormsby with grandchild No 13

“I did not have any role models and my life was punctuated with abuse,” says Mr Ormsby. “My violence towards others was more psychological than physical, and my first two marriages ended badly. I wasn’t able to communicate with others, and had no self-esteem. I was angry and no one showed me how to be a parent, how to cope with emotions, or anger. I became what I was taught, an angry hard man that was abusive.”

Floyd believes the seeds of his journey towards becoming non-violent were sown when he mentored a young lad whose dad was killed in a car accident. Mentoring has been Floyd’s way of atoning for his own behaviour and started him on a journey to become a better man, and now a White Ribbon Ambassador.

“I know, that we can all play a role in violence prevention. It’s as easy as talking to your son, talking to the boys in the team you coach, or to the young men in your lives about being a good human being. And most importantly, it’s about role modelling healthy masculinity and showing young men they can be caring, kind and empathetic.

Floyd refereeing

Floyd Ormsby is now role modelling healthy masculinity and respectful relationships as a high-performance coach and referee. When Floyd starts his games as a referee, he just doesn’t bring in the front row, he talks to all the players about what he expects in a game and what he will not put up with – foul play or language, bullying or abuse. Setting those expectations and role modelling them, have helped Floyd to turn his life around.

“Now it’s time for all of us to play our part,” says Mr Ormsby, “and be role models for our young men and women.”



  • Floyd has the full support of his wife Gail and is now a White Ribbon Ambassador promoting Respectful Relationships and Healthy Masculinity as alternatives and a protection against violence.
  • Research demonstrates that an underlying cause of family violence is connected to the rigid rules of masculinity, the expectations that men must always appear dominant, tough and in charge.
  • Believing in the rigid rules of masculinity is twenty times more likely to predict committing violence than any other demographic factors like ethnicity, age or income. We need to replace the outdated ideas of what a man is supposed to be, with concepts that encourage and support healthy masculinity.
  • Too often men believe they need to appear tough and in-control in front of other men. This is from a fear, real or not, that they’ll be rejected, possibly violently, if they don’t fit in. Often being told to ‘Man Up’, is to be reminded to get back into the Man Box and act in a manner that conforms to the outdated stereotypes.
  • Phrases like ‘Boys will be Boys’ emphasize these old unhealthy stereotypes and they’re still being used today. These phrases reinforce the rigid rules of masculinity that are linked to violence against women, and the time has come for us to take back the phrase, change the narrative and promote ‘healthy masculinity’.
  • White Ribbon has free online resources that are available for the public to download and help them become a part of the solution.
  • White Ribbon has a large number of events occurring throughout Aotearoa, along with over 200 Ambassadors talking about healthy masculinity and the White Ribbon Riders traveling throughout New Zealand spreading the Kaupapa.



White Ribbon Media
Nancy Blackler 0272425318
Rob McCann 0212122953
White Ribbon Graphics can be downloaded from here
More detailed information on this year’s campaign can be found here

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