Kelvin Davis and his crusade

A little while ago I blogged about Kelvin Davis’s Facebook post about his aims as a returning MP. One of his four priorities upon his return to Parliament is to confront the issue of sexual and physical violence towards women in society. Ae he said in the Facebook post:

Priority 4: Stopping sexual, physical and emotional abuse of women and children, and yes to men as well.

I was outraged with the Roastbusters scandal and the well publicized sexual abuse/ pedophile cases in Kaitaia over the last few years.

He went on to say that he waited to see and hear a male MP stand up and say something needed to be done. But, as history tells, this didn’t really happen.

Yesterday Kelvin sent the following tweets:

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Now, I don’t think Kelvin is suggesting that sexual violence is free from complex causes. But he does have a point, that spending too much time over thinking the issues is going to delay finding solutions. It is about finding steps we can take now, that will help move things forward, while also looking for more significant steps that can be taken. As one of his other tweets points out, this isn’t just about sexual violence, it is about all the other knock on effects that it causes.

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Kelvin was pretty blunt about his views on the issue. But this is one time where I think it is called for, and attracts good attention to the issue, as opposed to distracting from it.

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Seeing these tweets prompted me to contact Kelvin to get a bit more information him about what it was he aimed to achieve, as well as the role he saw social media playing in support of achieving that goal. I am going to reproduce the first part of his email unedited.


I’ll give you a bit of a story (although not the full one) around my stance on Sexual Violence.
When I was principal at Kaitaia Intermediate School I heard over one three week period of 13 girls being sexually abused. I was outraged and called a hui of surrounding principals and agencies including police etc and told them about this.
The question was asked “So what do you hope to achieve from this.” and I said “I just want to blow the issue out of the water, and draw attention to the issue.” There was an awkward silence and a principal asked me “Have you given any thought to what may come out of the woodwork if you do this and do we have the resources to address it all.”
I was taken aback, and said, “well no” and someone said “don’t you think you better?” and I replied, (still a bit stunned), “well ok, maybe I had better give this some thought and reconvene the hui in a couple of weeks. So I stopped the meeting and they all couldn’t get out of the room fast enough.
It’s case of coulda, shoulda, woulda, but I didn’t reconvene the meeting..
This is a rather telling story. As much of the issue is about people not wanting to talk about it or think about it, as it is about the actual sexual violence offenders. Kelvin also commented:
Reflecting on my time in parliament 2008-11, I have had time to really think about what difference I made aside from helping constituents with issues etc. And I struggled to find anything of significance (in my defence being a new opposition list MP doesn’t provide much opportunity).
So Kelvin plans on “going feral on this kaupapa while I can because it is something I feel so passionate about.”
What I really wanted to know about this was what role he sees for social media in his crusade.
….it is the best and fastest way I know of to get the message out to a wider audience, to promote discussion, raise awareness and help people to protect themselves and their children, family and friends from sexual abusers.
I could write a letter to the editor of the local rag everyday and hope he runs it, but when a ton of followers retweet or share what I write then I get better cut through. The language can be a little more earthy and if I can emotionally move people, and be controversial then they are likely to respond and retweet or share and the message gets out there.
This is the key thing about social media, add in the fact that it gets people in their own home, or where they are relaxing. They are alone, which hopefully means they are more likely to take the time to think and reflect on the issue. This issue is going to be attacked and improved by getting individual people to change their behaviour. Be that reassessing their own attitudes and actions towards women, or by realising that if they see things happening that they don’t think are right, they need to speak up and do something about it.
So what can be done on social media to help this all happen. Firstly Kelvin has an idea about that.
Producing a video that can be spread is a good place to start. But it can’t just be politicians sitting there telling men they need to change their behaviour. It has to be made both personal, and collective. It needs to have ordinary people, people who are just like those it is aimed at.  It has to include messages that talk to individuals, give them the sense that they can do things to help. But it also has to come from people who are respected, sportsmen, actors, well-known business people. People from all backgrounds. The message needs to be simple and practical. Once there is content that has a message and is interesting, with high production quality, it is then about getting that message out.
Social media is free, there is nothing to stop the message being pushed day after day, it isn’t just about getting 5000 retweets on one tweet, it is about getting 5000, 10,000, 50,000 views on a single video on youtube. It is about making guys at parties realise that they can stand up and do something.
I would like to take this opportunity to offer Kelvin any support I can on the social media front to help him advance this issue. It is something that is important, it is something that needs to be solved. It won’t happen quickly, but social media can play a role in getting the message out to those who have been hard to reach via traditional media methods.