Children are being exposed to issues of domestic violence in their home environments and must therefore be sensitized to dealing with these encounters.
Recognizing this, the National Organisation of Women (NOW) is heading to primary schools to get a headstart with the message to young children.
On Monday, it was the turn of the Lawrence T Gay Memorial School, where a group of students received a pep talk about the sensitive topic of domestic violence. NOW’s public relations officer Marsha Hinds-Layne, said it is necessary to talk to children about the topic, since teachers and guidance counselors have been coming across children who have been affected by this form of violence.
Hinds-Layne said that it is important to note that issues such as fighting and bullying in schools are caused by students who are confused and experiencing emotional displacement because of what is going on in their homes.
“We have to accept that we can’t just tell them to behave good, we also have to be able to gave them mechanisms to cope. So NOW’s schools programme is one where we are focusing on sensitizing children about domestic violence. We have been doing a lot of work with secondary schools because those children are on the cusp of negotiating relationships, and we want to be able to address some of that behavior.
“But I also recognize through discussions with teachers that in the primary schools as well, that there are some issues even at this young age where the children might not be negotiating relationships, but because of what they are seeing in the households, they are coming with complicated behaviour,” Hinds-Layne said.
For this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which started on Sunday, NOW will be focusing on children who lose parents to domestic violence.
The public relations officer said it is NOW’s responsibility to remind society that children who have been affected by domestic violence, are often left behind, and act out in unfavorable ways.
“The reality of the situation is that we are trying to sensitize people that it is not only women that these issues affect, it affects children too,” she said.
Founder and Director of the Women of Purpose Group, Jennifer Johnson, gave the children a pep talk regarding the steps they should take if they realize that domestic violence is taking place in their home.
“Our reason for coming into the schools is to bring an awareness to the children because domestic violence impacts on them. It affects you mentally. We see the cuts, we see the bruises, but we don’t see the mental scars.
“And it can cause a rippled effect where you would have parents fighting in the house, and then the children grow up and sometimes they find themselves growing up and doing the same thing. We want the children to know that they are entitled to love and good homes,” Johnson said.
The programme was also taken to the students of the Blackman and Gollop Primary School. The children at both schools received orange balloons to show their support in the fight against domestic violence.