12 May 2011
- Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom
Job opportunities are limited for those holding college degrees and other forms of higher levels of education.
Everything from food to clothing and gasoline has escalated in cost.
And we now have well over 100 million people signed up and actively engaged on social media sites.
While none of these elements offer a valid excuse to commit crime, they certainly play a role in explaining it.
We live in a society where employment opportunities are scarce. Money is not only hard to come by, but its value has depreciated. Social media is being used more and more as another means to antagonize individuals and groups, i.e. cyber bullying. All the while, it is our children who are forced, either directly or indirectly, to deal with the situations at hand. As adults, we must become more educated about the various types of abuse, talk to our children and take a more active role of responsibility regarding their well being as well as our own.
Fact: while overall crime has shown a decrease of 29 percent over the past five years, domestic violence reports have actually increased.
Fact: within the first two months of 2011, approximately 5300 calls were made to the Memphis Police Department regarding domestic violence. Many of these calls were placed and/or witnessed by children. The affects of what is seen and heard can have long term consequences, causing physical, mental and emotional scars that, if left unattended and untreated, cause a perpetual cycle of children who later become the aggressor or the victim.
As the founder of Walking Into A New Life, I spend a great deal of time focusing on education. To protect our children against domestic violence and abuse, we must first understand it ourselves. Many of us are or have been in abusive situations and don’t or didn’t even realize it. We have no idea the impact that it’s having on those around us, especially the children.
I mentioned the social media sites previously because approximately 72 percent of young adults and teens use social networking sites as a form of communication. Cyber bullying and cyber abuse are rapidly growing and play major roles in tearing down self esteem, depression and in some cases, suicide. We must learn what these, and other, technological terms mean in order to relate to our children and recognize whether they may be in danger.
It is imperative that we talk with our children openly and honestly about domestic violence and abuse. If you’ve been in an unhealthy relationship, they need to know that. I openly talk about my experiences with my family. I facilitate conferences and workshops. I actively blog on my website. I speak to teens about everything from teen parenting, dating and abuse, using myself as the primary example. I believe that if you’re open and honest with people, especially children, you will gain their trust. They understand that you’ve been where they are and that you actually care. Children need to know that they can come to you and say they’re in trouble.
If you’re currently in an unhealthy relationship, you must take responsibility for what the children see and hear and make a conscience and strategic decision to get out and get out quickly. I’ve heard people say over and over again that one of the main reasons they stayed in their abusive relationship was because of the children. They wanted to keep their family together. Your children should be the main reason to get out! If you really want to keep your family together, leave. What you think you’re giving them physically is actually destroying them emotionally.
There are no easy solutions, as domestic violence and abuse is not an easy problem to address. Collaboration between organizations, both large and small, is a must. There is strength in numbers. Unity represents solidarity.
As a society, we have a responsibility to our children. We have to be the type of individuals that they can come to if they’re witnessing or experiencing violence on any level. But we must lead by example. Our children need to see positive influences so that as problems arise, they’ll know who to go to for help. Everything that I’ve said in this article is based on my personal and professional credentials, having been a victim myself.
(Joyce Parkinson is the founder and executive director of Walking Into A New Life, a community organization designed to empower victims of domestic violence through education and microenterprise development.)
(This is one in a series of monthly guest columns designed to focus the community’s attention on issues that affect our children. The column is part of a Shelby County initiative to remind everyone, in every aspect of daily life, to Ask First: Is It Good for the Children?” For more information, call the Shelby County Office of Early Childhood and Youth at 385-4228 or visit www.shelbycountychildren.org.)