As an Educator, What Can I do?
Many students from violent homes and many abused women have expressed frustration in dealing with professionals and service providers, as they are too often met with well intentioned responses that in fact blame the victim and minimize the danger. As educators we must acknowledge that wife assault/woman abuse in the home or in dating relationships is not only a personal problem, but an important social issue that we can and must respond to.
Generally, as Educators, We Can:
- Educate ourselves about the facts and the resources;
- Work for change by putting forward the following values and incorporating them into our school curriculum and programs:
- encourage co-operation rather than competition;
- model the equality of men and women;
- acknowledge and encourage the gentleness of men and the strength of women;
- Understand and teach that violence is always a choice and, therefore, other choices are possible;
- Encourage the hiring of a social worker or lifeskills instructor trained to respond to violence against women and children;
- Support the hiring of school administrators who are committed to non-violence, diversity and equity issues;
- Learn the necessary skills in order to recognize signs of abuse in students' behaviour.
Specifically, If You Know a Student in an Abusive Home:
- Listen. Find a quiet place where you won't be interrupted.
- Help them understand that they are not to blame for the violence.
- Let them know that no one has the right to assault/abuse another person.
- Tell the student that many others come from violent homes and that they have a right to tell someone and to seek help; this is not a private family matter but is a violation of Canadian law.
- Know and tell the students that there are safe places to go with their moms. Children, even adolescent boys, must be told not to endanger themselves by intervening personally on their mother's behalf. Help them to develop a safety plan for themselves and younger brothers and sisters and to know how to call for help for their mother.
- Let them know that their mother is not to blame for the violence. There are places where their father/mother's partner can go for help if he wants the violence to stop.
Our ultimate goal is that all people live lives free of violence. We are all responsible. And if each of us is willing to learn more about the issue and how to respond individually and collectively, there is hope...
If You Know a Female Student Who Is In a Violence Dating Relationship:**
- Assure her that you believe her story.
- Tell her that she does not deserve to be hurt nor is she to blame for the abuse, regardless of what the argument was about that preceded the abuse.
- Do not give advice or judge. Talk with her about options and help her plan how to respond to a crisis.
- Find out what she wants to do about her relationship and support her no matter what she decides.
- Allow her to feel the way she does. Let her talk about the caring aspects of the relationship as well. Don't try to diminish her feelings about her boyfriend. Don't criticize her for staying with him, but share information on how abuse increases over time without intervention.
- Listen to an abuser. Support change in his behaviour. Don't be silent or ignore abusive comments about women.
- Help him understand that he is the only one responsible for the violence even if his girlfriend is responsible for other problems in the relationship. Violence is learned behaviour. It can be changed.
- Encourage him to seek help in a counselling program for batterers. The violence will not stop on its own.