Note: This is not a post about gun control or politics. It is about what happens when we turn a blind eye to people in need, and how to encourage your kids to extend a helping hand at any age. If you or someone you know is in a situation that seems hopeless, please note that there are resources available to you listed at the end of this post.
This blog post, written by Katherine Fugate, is long but beautifully written and very thought-provoking. In a nutshell, it describes a family in a small town where everyone knows that the man is physically violent toward his wife. They do nothing, and eventually the family is torn apart. The author (a well-known Hollywood screenwriter) says that “No one would have been surprised if we’d died” and “They’d tell the news cameras that he was a violent guy”. She then goes on to draw a chilling and very real path from domestic violence to the tragedy of mass shootings.
“What we allow will continue. What continues will escalate.“
“…the majority of all mass shooters in the United States killed an intimate partner or family member during the massacre or had a history of domestic violence.
The facts show that domestic violence is a very clear warning sign that people outside of the family might also be hurt in the future.
Violent men don’t just drop out of the sky with guns and start shooting up people in public places. There are warning signs.
Abused women and children are the canary in the coal mine.”
Raise a Hero
We can easily take this idea to the elementary school playground or to the college dorm. Whether we’re talking about a mean boy OR girl who will stop at nothing to get their own way, a fraternity brother or sorority sister who is carrying out a hazing ritual, or a violent man who is abusive toward his family, it is always hard to stand up to a bully. But when our kids see us turning a blind eye out of fear, they will do the same. The fact is that there are resources for us, and we need to be resources for our children. Encourage them from a young age to do the right thing even when it isn’t easy, and let them know that you will always back them up.
- Teach kids to help other children who may be in trouble if they can, or alert trusted grown-ups. Praise them for assisting others or alerting you to people who are in distress.
- Help kids interpret incidents on the playground and with friends. Play a “rewind” game, and ask what they could have done differently to help. Give them big props for talking to you about tough subjects.
- Talk with your older kids about who they can tell if they suspect that a friend is in trouble. This can include anything from being in an abusive relationship or being assaulted, to having a drug or alcohol problem or a mental health or eating disorder. A trusted adult (besides you) could include a guidance counselor, a coach or teacher, or an aunt, uncle or neighbor.
Crime Victims Center of Chester County 24/7 Hotlines:
- Sexual Assault (610) 692-7273
- Other Crimes (610) 692-7420
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)