Preventing, stopping domestic violence takes a village

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category icon Editorials, Opinion

In reporting the bullying story published on page A1 of this week’s Post-Record, a statement from one of the reporting adults stood out.

“(She) dreads seeing him and his presence very negatively affects her sense of safety and her ability to enjoy school and being a … kid at school without fear of harassment,” the reporting adult told school officials regarding a 10-year-old girl who had allegedly been assaulted by a male classmate on the school playground.

The young boy, who has since been suspended from school pending the results of a district threat assessment, allegedly touched the girl between her legs and, according to the report, “grabbed and squeezed (her) vagina.”

It’s easy to imagine where the boy may have heard that this type of violence against girls is OK. After all, we have a president who gloated about doing something similar to any woman he wanted to touch, and who has been known to call women dogs, pigs, slobs and even “disgusting animals.”

But, even if the boy has no idea that his president regularly makes derogatory remarks about girls and women — remarks that go unchecked by his supporters — there is a good chance he is simply mimicking behavior he sees in his world.

It is very possible that he witnessed this type of relationship violence in his own home. That’s the tricky thing about domestic violence — the children who witness violent acts between their parents or caregivers are at an increased risk of continuing these unhealthy patterns throughout their lives.

A 2006 study published in Pediatrics, which examined links between bullying and witnessing violence in the home, found a majority of the child bullies in the study were exposed to domestic violence at home.

“Exposed children were at increased risk for problematic levels of … physical aggression,” according to the report.

We can’t do much about the fact that millions of Americans thought it was OK to elect an unapologetic misogynist as their president, but we can all make a dent in reducing and preventing domestic violence in our own communities — and possibly preventing another child from thinking this type of behavior is normal in an intimate relationship.

One of the best ways to prevent domestic violence is to know what to look for. The YWCA Clark County SafeChoice program, highlighted in another A1 story in this week’s Post-Record, offers a wealth of “warning sign” information at

Another simple way to help domestic violence survivors is to keep the number of a nearby shelter or hotline in your phone in case you come across someone in need. In Clark County, the 24-hour domestic violence hotline number is 360-695-0501.

Shattering rigid gender stereotypes would go a long way toward preventing domestic violence, but far too many people and educators still hold on to that old “boys will be boys” mentality that fails to hold boys and men accountable for their mistreatment of girls and women. The Camas School District seems to be doing better on this front than many other school districts, and CSD administrators should be applauded for their transparent bullying and harassment policies, and for allowing activities such as the recent Camas High School “Unity Week,” a student-led effort that tackled tough topics like gender and religious diversity.

The YWCA also has a host of programs to help stop violence before it has a chance to flourish in the community. For instance, the group’s “Where We Thrive” prevention program, for students ages 15 to 18, delves into sexual assault prevention and helps teens understand what constitutes a healthy dating relationship. For more information about this and other programs, call 360-696-0167 or email

As its name suggests, domestic violence used to be considered “a family problem,” but that way of thinking does nothing to stop the cycle of pain and destruction that has killed nearly 900 Washingtonians over the past 20 years. Domestic violence is a community problem that affects each and every one of us — and it will take the entire village to solve it.