Since 1987, October has been observed as Domestic Violence Awareness month. Having worked as a child advocate in a domestic violence shelter and as a women’s advocate for many years, it seemed to make sense to pen a few words on this issue both to educate and to empower. Starting the with the somber, here are a couple of statistics: Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten and every hour as many as 115 children are abused or beaten.1 Considering our time spent in the office, classroom, preschool or private home environment, this sobering data, unfortunately, spares none of us. Moving then into how this affects us as early childhood educators, I will share a work related story, of which I am sure we all have plenty. A few weeks ago my coworker returned from a child assessment at a preschool site and recounted how well it went, how adorable the child was, etc. She added that the child had a remarkable, uncovered burn on the back of his hand. The child reported it was from his mom’s curling iron. I was silent for a few moments and then asked how she felt about that. She answered with a question: “Should I call the school back and talk to the teacher about that?” We decided that it was a good idea and the right thing to do. At the very least, the wound could be tended to with some ointment and a band-aid. On a more serious note of intervention, the conversation could lead to further discussion and awareness around family dynamics and possible abuse in the home. Either way, it is a poignant example of heeding to the call of being responsible stewards for the health and well-being of the children and families with whom we interact. While professionally we are all mandated reporters, our charge to protect children and families as best we can is a duty around which we need to feel empowered. There are multitudes of resources available to us. Nationally and locally, domestic violence centers and hotlines are ready to serve. For quick reference in Denver, one can contact the SafeHouse Denver 24-hour hotline (information noted below). Of course we all wish for best case scenarios around a child’s “boo-boo”, mom’s sprained wrist or an older sibling’s black eye, but please maintain the courage to ask questions, to listen and to seek counsel both from professionals in the field and from each other. Our shared stories can bring us together and heal like nothing else. It takes a village to raise a child. We are that village.
Contact the SafeHouse Denver 24-hour hotline at: 303-318-9989
Or you can find them online at, http://www.safehouse-denver.org/
1 National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2012.