Teach them that violence has no place in good relationship
As an advocate in the effort to prevent teen violence and keep our community's children safe, I was pleased to learn that earlier this week Governor Mitch Daniels signed “Heather’s Law” – a bill enabling schools to address dating violence through education programs and policies for students in 6 through 12 grade.
Heather’s Law has reinforced the importance of education and helping children – many of whom are in relationships for the first time and therefore don’t know and understand what constitutes healthy relationships. Women’s Fund has long supported community efforts that prevent violence, including funding a program through Ruth Lilly Heath Education Center designed to teach every IPS 5th and 7th grade student about healthy relationships annually for three years. In its final year, this program has become a national model and students have demonstrated increased knowledge of healthy relationships. This program, along with Heather's Law, are critical steps to reducing and ending violence among teens, and ultimately stopping its demonstrative cycle.
Teen violence is not new; however, it is a silent matter most adults do not recognize or accept easily. Violence among dating teenagers permeates many high schools and homes and cuts across every socioeconomic group. Teen violence proliferates from adult violence, often causing young children to repeat the cycle of abuse.
As a community, we must find a way to protect more young people from violence. While Heather’s Law requires the schools to take action, I believe it is the responsibility of everyone to take an active role in educating and supporting young children. It should be our responsibility as adults to serve as mentors and positive role models so our children recognize abusive behavior and feel empowered to seek help.
Jennifer Pope Baker
Director, Women’s Fund of Central Indiana
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