STAND! For Families Free of Violence
All too often we hear about a new tragedy happening in one of our communities, and no matter how near or far, we question our sense of safety. For those families who have survived 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?
Sadly, our communities are also rocked by quieter, less public tragedies happening in the home. Many children grow up learning 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. Here are nine ways that you can 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