Thursday, October 15, 2009

Girl Scouts Recognize Domestic Violence Month

Domestic Violence is a problem that knows no age, social boundaries or class distinction. It affects thousands of women and families. Children and teens are just as much at risk for domestic violence as adults. Most children in homes with domestic violence know about the violence. They can feel helpless, scared and upset. They may also feel like the violence is their fault. Children who live with domestic violence in their homes are afraid for their parents and themselves and often feel bad that they cannot stop the abuse. If they try to stop the fight, they can be hurt. Children can also be physically hurt by things that are thrown or weapons that are used.

Children who live in homes with domestic violence can have many problems. They can have trouble sleeping, have self-esteem issues, trouble in school and getting along with others. These problems can get worse as the child gets older and create a cycle of abuse and violence.

As recent studies by the Girl Scout Research Institute have revealed, girls believe that both physical and emotional health are important. In Feeling Safe: What Girls Say, approximately 35% of teen girls say they are most concerned about "being attacked with a weapon" and “being forced to do something sexual." A 16-year-old says she feels unsafe when "someone I trust shows me that I was mistaken about them.”

For teens, domestic violence can include being in a relationship with someone who is very jealous and/or spies on/stalks you, someone who will not let the relationship end, someone who hits, slaps, kicks or hurts you in any way, forces you to participate in sexual activities, or someone who abuses drugs or alcohol and/or pressures you to use drugs or alcohol.

During the month of October, the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama encourages the community to educate themselves on how to recognize the signs of domestic violence and how to cultivate healthy relationships.

Girl Scouts believes all girls have a right to a life free from violence, whether in their relationships, homes, schools or communities. Girl Scouts has developed and implemented strong age-appropriate violence prevention initiatives for girls. The Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama has hosted several programs where teenage girls participate with their parents/guardians to learn about different types of violence and other forms of aggression that teens most often encounter. Programs geared towards younger girls educated them on how to form healthy relationships with people of all ages and also learn conflict resolution skills.

If you are in danger or need to seek help, call your local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you suspect a child has been a victim of domestic violence, you may also call your local Department of Human Resources.