Sex education and wellness class: Two of the most practical, yet undervalued, classes students will ever have in compulsory education. Think of it like personal finance, but you’ll actually want to use what you’ve learned. One specific area that public schools have yet to address is domestic violence: What it is, what the signs are, and how to help someone or receive help.
Domestic violence is an awful plague on any society. It is especially a concern for society when the abused partner rarely knows the appropriate response or resources available to victims. Far too often, victims remain in the relationship thinking they can fix it, but these relationships should only be escaped.
According to Love Is Respect, their website reports, “Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year, and one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.”
Without the education to understand what domestic violence means or how to report it, many victims remain silent about their abuse, or cover up evidence with a lie or defense of the abuser. Love Is Respect reports “only 33 percent of teens who were in a violent relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.”
The flaw in even our best sex ed classes is that they usually assume relationships will work or at least end amicably. This is not realistic. If the only way people can learn about domestic violence is firsthand, then the American education system has failed its students.
Domestic violence is not an issue we can leave to parents to address either. Never mind how uncomfortable that conversation can be, but there’s never a situation where anyone can guarantee children will have parents who are informed, willing or able to have that talk. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, statistics show “a child witnessed violence in 22 percent (nearly 1 in 4) of intimate partner violence cases filed in state courts.”
Typically children who witness/experience domestic violence at home will fall into an abusive relationship when they’re older. The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports, “One study in North America found that children who were exposed to violence in the home were 15 times more likely to be physically and/or sexually assaulted than the national average.”
Though it’s the season for Valentine’s Day, America needs to understand the ramifications of domestic violence and the lack of comprehensive education. Everyone should understand what domestic violence is, and everyone should know what resources are available to them if domestic violence occurs.
If you know anyone who may be a victim of domestic violence, reach out to them. Victims need to know they have a support system willing to help them. This is a conversation that must be had between family, friends, classrooms and coworkers, no matter how uncomfortable. For more information or to report domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.