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Educating Children About Domestic Violence

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal's column.

This session I sponsored legislation (SB 587) designed to educate and protect our children from the dangers of domestic violence. On Wednesday I presented Senate Bill 587 to members of the Senate Education Committee. This bill is not your typical domestic violence measure as it aims to educate and protect a group of domestic violence victims who are often voiceless – our children.

Domestic violence is not limited to any specific group of people. The occurrence affects each economic class, every ethnic group and all ages. There is no one face of an abuser or victim. No community is untouched by this plague. 1 out of 4 women will become victims of domestic violence in her lifetime. Every 9 seconds, in America, a woman is beaten by someone that claims to love her.

Senate Bill 587 seeks to encourage schools to establish curriculum that provides domestic violence information in an age–appropriate manner. Our children must be enabled to recognize when something is amiss in their homes. They deserve to know what is and what is not acceptable behavior by the adults who model relationship standards unto them.

Make no mistake – there are adults out there modeling this atrocious behavior to our kids. In 2009, the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported 41,526 incidents of domestic violence in our state. 41,526. If even one-tenth of those victims had one child present when they were attacked, it amounts to more than 4,100 innocent child witnesses. It is said that 7 of the 10 people in a domestic violence shelter are children. In 2010, 57 Missouri women were killed as a result of domestic violence.

That is why it is vital that we give our children the necessary knowledge so they can identify these behaviors and understand which ones are wrong. We must give our children information on how to deal with abuse when they see it. We owe our children facts on how to protect themselves from an abusers hands and where to seek assistance if it is needed. Our children deserve to receive a curriculum that teaches what healthy behaviors and relationships look like, what they sound like, what they feel like.

Senate Bill 587 gives us the opportunity to pass legislation that advocates the promotion of healthy behaviors, that raises awareness about domestic violence and that advocates the protection of Missouri’s most precious resource – our children.

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