Children are good at keeping secrets, including bad ones. For millions of U.S. children, their secret is they live in the shadow of domestic violence.
Unfortunately, the problem may not be identified until law enforcement gets involved. To help remedy this, law enforcement is looking to schools and teachers, who have daily contact with students, for help in identifying and reaching at-risk children and families before dangerous situations turn violent—even deadly. That’s why the National Law Enforcement Museum came to EDC to create a guide to train school leaders to recognize and support young children who are exposed to violence at home.
Supporting Children Exposed to Domestic Violence: A Facilitator’s Guide to Creating a Coordinated Response in Elementary Schools was published in July 2011 with funding from the Verizon Foundation.
EDC’s John Rosiak led a team of program developers to create the guide. “To make schools and communities safe for children takes coordination and leadership,” he says. Consequently, the guide is directed at school leaders, who can learn and train others in how to identify and intervene with children exposed to domestic violence. This could mean reporting suspected domestic violence to the school resource officer or directly to other local law enforcement officials.
The guide describes the signs that educators should look for—for example, displaying new disciplinary or aggression problems, such as bullying or outbursts of anger; seeming to dread going home; and excessive absenteeism and/or tardiness.
The guide also provides activities and suggestions for how to help a child, whom to contact for more information, and how schools can develop policies.
“These kids are coming to school with factors stacked against them,” says Rosiak. “We need to raise awareness about the impact of domestic violence on children so schools and communities can work with law enforcement to better address this problem.”
Domestic violence affects all ages, races, and ethnicities. It cuts across marital status, and religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. For children exposed to violence at home, it affects their physical safety, emotional well-being, and readiness to learn at school.
- 1.3 million women are assaulted by an intimate partner each year.
- Each year, an estimated 7 to 14 million children witness assaults against a parent by an intimate partner.
- 7% of officers feloniously killed between 2000 and 2009 were responding to domestic disturbances.
(Source: Supporting Children Exposed to Domestic Violence, 2011)
Originally published on April 24, 2012