STAND! For Families Free of Violence
Our communities have been rocked by violence in recent months. The tragedies we’ve witnessed in Colorado, Oregon, and Connecticut have erased our sense of safety. For those families and children who have survived these terrible acts of violence, the idea of “Sanctuary” lies in tatters. And thanks to the 24-hour news cycle and social networking, the rest of us experience trauma vicariously. Where are we and our children safe if not at the movies, the mall, or school?
Every day, our communities are also rocked by the quieter, less public tragedies as well. Many children grow up learning in their homes and neighborhoods that violence is strength. They learn that hurting others is an appropriate response to anger, disappointment, or fear. They learn that “power” means power over other people. They learn it when they see one of their parents control the other through manipulation or physical force and when adults strike children as punishment for misbehavior. They see it normalized on television and in movies. They learn that no place is safe.
We live in a culture of violence, and the differences in the trauma experienced by a child who survives a school shooting and one who watches her father beat up her mother are differences of degree, not kind. Each of us has a role to play in reducing the violence that touches us all, though it can be overwhelming for individuals to try to sort through the noise in search of concrete actions to take. What can we do today to make a difference?
- Model respect for all members of your family and your community
- Commit to dialogue instead of yelling
- Encourage children to talk about what they feel
- Help them devise responses other than hurting others
- Set clear boundaries for how you want to be treated and respect the boundaries of those around you
- Challenge discriminatory and dehumanizing name-calling
- Stand up to bullies
- Report violent behavior to the appropriate authorities
We are a society in desperate need of healing. Only by working together to create a culture of respect can we find peace and strength.
Wishing you peace,
Gloria J. Sandoval
Chief Executive Officer