As a blogger for Makers of Memories, who has spent a fair amount of time as a volunteer in the domestic violence realm, the subject of ending domestic violence comes up often in my thoughts. One of the five components of the action plan at Makers of Memories to breaking the cycle of domestic violence is awareness and education. I believe this is key.
As I look back on my own life and my experience with working at a domestic violence shelter, I know that the education and training I received there opened my eyes to a completely different world. I had no idea how huge a problem domestic violence was and how many people it was affecting until I received that training. Prior to that training, I also had little idea what to do to help people who might be going through it.
The unfortunate thing is that I didn’t learn this vital information until I was in my twenties, and when I did, it was only as a result of plunging actively into this sphere. With such a societal epidemic as domestic violence on our hands, this begs the questions: shouldn’t this information and education be readily available to everyone and be occurring across the board much earlier in our lives?
I believe that domestic violence education should begin in schools and that a specific school curriculum should be developed and implemented to tackle this critical issue. These types of classes could build awareness and a better understanding of domestic violence by discussing what an abusive relationship is, what forms domestic violence comes in, and what a normal, healthy relationship should look like. Actively focusing on this issue can also provide an opportunity for students to seek help when they need it, if domestic violence is occurring in their own lives. School is already a place of learning and modeling acceptable behavior, so it could be a very important forum for bringing this issue to light.
This education should be happening at home as well, although in many cases, parents fail to tell their children or model what is normal and what is not normal in a relationship. Many children are experiencing domestic violence in their homes every day without knowing that these experiences are unhealthy and not how their parents should be treating one another or how they should treat people whom they have relationships with now or later in life.
It is never too early for education to begin on this critical issue in our society. The places where children spend the largest chunks of their time – school and home – are good places to start. Makers of Memories is developing several groundbreaking awareness and education initiatives that will help pave the way.
By Laura Sandall