It’s Time to Talk: Discussions We Need to Have with Our Youth
We all have a responsibility to teach and nurture our youth, regardless if we have children of our own or not. The small seeds of knowledge, love, and praise that we plant in them today have the potential to grow and become something mighty one day! You never know the impact that you can have on a child’s future; just by showing interest in them or their development. I think we can all think back to a teacher we had as a child, that was our “favorite” because he /she seemed to care about us a little more than the other teachers. They cared about our well-being and not only planted seeds in us, but they nurtured them with consistent praise, knowledge, and love.
It’s Time to Talk!
This past February, was Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month. A month where educators and parents etc. were having discussions about love, respect, and healthy relationships with the youth in their lives. I have three children of my own; a son- 21 and two girls that are ages 15 and 10. I talk to them all regularly, especially my young daughters about healthy and unhealthy relationships and about respecting themselves and making it a necessary nonnegotiable requirement from others. Unfortunately, I do not have to tell them what one [ unhealthy relationship] looks like because they have lived through seeing me in unhealthy, dysfunctional and violent relationships before. Therefore this is why I feel compelled to have those same discussions with as many children as I can… because they may not know how to identify what one looks and feels like.
“I strongly believe you can’t prevent what you don’t see & you can’t heal from what you don’t identify.”
Planting Seeds at Gahanna Lincoln Highschool
As Teen Dating Violence and Awareness Month comes to a close, I am happy to have had an opportunity to plant a seed or two, thanks to the Gahanna City school district. An amazing woman and teacher named teachers, Mrs. Marcie Aiello invited me to be a guest speaker at her annual luncheon she has for the members of her GLHS (Gahanna Lincoln High School ) ‘S” Club. The “S” stands for Soroptimist, which is a “global women’s organization whose members volunteer to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.” The girls of her GLHS “S” club are committed to service throughout the in the community.
Mrs. Cheryl Fouts, President of the Soroptimist International of NE Suburban Franklin County, generously donates the food for the annual luncheon for the girls. It is not mandatory that the girls attend; therefore, to see the turn-out is proof they were eager to participate!
As you can see they were all eager to attend and not only hungry for the food, but for the information; I appreciated that they were respectful and attentive as I spoke. Following the presentation, I handed out Battered Not Broken Awareness bracelets to several girls that were eager and able to answer questions and statistics that I shared earlier about teen dating violence.
I was honored to have the opportunity to share my experience of abuse with them and even more honored by the young ladies that came to speak to me after my presentation. Some girls shared their experiences, the experiences of someone close to them, or just wanted to thank me for what I am trying to accomplish in the community and express interested in volunteering with my organization.
I was thoroughly surprised and caught off guard when Mrs. Aiello presented me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a heartfelt card with a Panera gift card inside and a generous donation to my organization! I am truly humbled and grateful for such blessings.
Planting Seeds at Gahanna Middle School East
Officer Marvin Hixon, of the Gahanna Police Department, invited me to be a guest speaker to a group of 6th Grade boys that he mentors each week. Officer Hixon shared with me that he had been talking to them about respect, specifically women; he thought who better to speak to these young boys about respecting women, but a woman! So often we talk to the girls about abuse and the signs to identify. However, we do not teach our boys how important it is to show respect to women. Boys, often think it’s cool to “rough house” and play with girls, even when she yell’s “stop” We have to teach our girls its okay to reject and our boys to respect when she says “no’.” I also talked to them about the consequences that come along with the choices we make and how they affect everyone closest to us.
So often we talk to the girls about abuse and the signs to look out for. However, we do not teach our boys how important it is to show respect to women. I shared my story of abuse and I did not hold back the images of the details. I was honest with them as I I talked to them about the 1 in 4 women that are abused or assaulted every 9 seconds in the U.S (source: NCADV), are someone’s mother, daughter, sister etc., she is someone that is loved. I encouraged them to and treat the women that they will grow up and date or marry like they would want the females in their lives to be treated and respected.
I talked to them about respecting when a woman tells them “NO” its a complete sentence and to respect it. Boys, often think it’s cool to “roughhouse” and play with girls, even when she yell’s “stop”. We have to teach our girls it’s okay to reject and say “No” and our boys to respect when she says “NO”.
The boys were polite and respectful, and I really enjoyed the time I spent with them. Thank you, Gahanna Middle School East, Officer Hixon & Principal Barboza for allowing me to visit. I pray that at least one life has been touched by the words I spoke, and the seeds I planted. And as a result, some lives will be spared from violence against women in the future.
It’s time to talk, in fact, the discussions we need to have with our youth is long overdue if we ever intend to reduce the statistics for domestic violence. Thank you, Mrs. Aiello, Mrs. Fouts, Officer Hixon and Principal Barboza, for planting the seeds and having the willingness to encourage the much-needed discussions with our boys and girls. I applaud you. I think it is inspiring that you and your school district see the importance of programs like these in your schools. Please keep up the great work- we will all reap the rewards in the future, from the seeds you are planting today!