The White Ribbon Campaign: Promoting healthy masculinity


By Paul Crocetti

For me, the White Ribbon Campaign is an important step forward.

Paul Crocetti

Men need to recognize our role in ending domestic violence. So it’s important that the White Ribbon Campaign, a movement led by men, is raising awareness, generating discussion, and running events.

The subject of domestic violence is often in the news and talked about when something horrible happens. While that’s an important time to get the message out, it’s critical to keep this discussion top of mind at all times. Unfortunately, domestic violence happens every day. It happens in our community. And it’s important to recognize that. And that’s just one reason why I’m a member of the local White Ribbon Group.

My name is Paul Crocetti and I’m a resident of Sudbury and a board member of the Sudbury-Wayland-Lincoln Domestic Violence Roundtable. I’m also the father of a 1-year-old girl – another reason why I’m a member of the Roundtable’s White Ribbon Group. I’d like to see her grow up in a world without domestic violence. At the very least, I’m going to work on a solution to the problem. As we wind down March – the month when we commemorate White Ribbon Day in Massachusetts – I’d like to provide some more information on this important cause and what it means to me.

The White Ribbon Campaign is a global movement of men and boys working to end men’s violence against women and girls. It was founded in Canada in 1991 as a response to a school massacre of female students in 1989. Fourteen people were killed in that attack. The response following it was one of advocacy. Now, Canada commemorates Dec. 6, the day of the attack, as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

In 2007, Jane Doe Inc. launched the Massachusetts White Ribbon Campaign and invited men and boys to be part of the solution in ending violence against women and all forms of gender-based violence. The aim is to foster safe and healthy relationships and communities by promoting healthy masculinity.

While the Sudbury-Wayland-Lincoln Domestic Violence Roundtable had been planning awareness events about the White Ribbon movement for a number of years, our local White Ribbon group was formed in the summer of 2019. We aim to promote healthy and positive attitudes and behaviors, and to create an environment free of fear and violence by advancing equity, justice, and dignity. Here are just a few of the ways we do this:

  • Organizing programs to help educators, youth specialists, parents, and community and civic leaders advance their knowledge and skills about how to address these issues on the individual and community level;
  • Facilitating community conversations on the subject of “Reimagining Manhood,” and on the social and emotional development of boys; and
  • Promoting a community-wide awareness of the White Ribbon Campaign through media releases, signage, flag raising, wearing the white ribbons, and the reading of the White Ribbon Pledge.

Last year, we had a big event planned to examine what it means to “be a man” in today’s culture. Unfortunately, we had to cancel as a result of the pandemic. I was happy to see the group pivot and present a different event in virtual form earlier this month. We were very excited to fill all the audience slots we had for the event.

“A Call to Families: Discussing Healthy Masculinity with Young People” examined the need to talk and teach about healthy manhood at an early age. We had a special guest keynote speaker, Rickie Houston, director of training for A Call to Men, which is an organization that promotes healthy, respectful manhood and offers trainings and educational resources.

Rickie spoke about the importance of boys being able to show their emotions and the significance of teaching them about healthy masculinity early in life. He noted that men are socialized not to ask for, accept, or offer help, and this can lead down a dangerous path. But something as simple as asking someone “What’s happening in your life?” can lead to a real conversation and open up important dialogue. It’s important for boys and men to embrace and express a full range of emotion, rather than being told to just “be a man” and repress necessary feelings.

I thought it was a powerful event all the way through, and it generated moving and helpful discussion among the participants. As I said earlier, it’s crucial to talk about these issues all the time, not just following a tragedy. And that’s another reason why I’m in the White Ribbon Group – for the conversation. Even during our group meetings, I find our discussions – on everything from current events to the history of the movement – to be enlightening, insightful, and compelling.

We plan to keep the momentum going, with more discussions and large events. I hope you’ll join us in some fashion. If you’re interested in being a member of our White Ribbon Group, email Wherever you are, I hope you’ll recite the White Ribbon Pledge below. Please use your voice in a positive way today.

I promise to never commit, condone or remain silent about men’s violence against women.

From this day forward, I promise to be part of the solution in ending violence against women and all gender-based violence.

This blog highlights the White Ribbon group organized by the Sudbury-Wayland-Lincoln Domestic Violence Roundtable. REACH has been honored to collaborate in supporting this dedicated group of men since they began meeting in 2019. To support this work or learn more about the Roundtable, please visit