Last week we discussed Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and the shocking statistics of teen dating abuse. I still can’t get over how widespread it is.
Children are little sponges who soak up everything around them, including learning behaviors they witness. Some children who are in a household where there is domestic violence act out aggressively in school and become bullies. Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.1
We need to reach the children in order to stop the cycle of domestic violence.
Domestic violence prevention organizations, such as Betty Griffin House, have counseling services and primary prevention programs in place to try to stop the cycle before it occurs. Check with your local domestic violence organization. They probably have these services too.
When I interviewed Kelly Franklin, Outreach Director of the Betty Griffin House, she explained to me how these programs work. Educating school children is an important part of ending domestic violence. These types of programs educate both boys and girls about what acceptable behavior is.
Healthy and happy relationships are such an important part of our lives that it makes sense to take the time to teach children how to have good relationships, just as we teach them how to make healthy food choices and take care of their teeth.
We can’t think that our child is immune to this continuing epidemic. Domestic violence reaches across the entire economic spectrum, from the very wealthy to the very poor. Everyone is vulnerable to entering a relationship where their partner is not who they think he or she is.
The more educated a child is, the more opportunities they have. This holds true for educating them on domestic violence. The more educated they are, the more able they will be to see the signs of an unhealthy relationship.
Children can stop the cycle of domestic violence from continuing. Let’s talk to our children and educate them.
1 Strauss, Gelles, and Smith, “Physical Violence in American Families: Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence” in 8,145 Families. Transaction Publishers (1990).