Kathryn Keats

Artist, Keats Publishing

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Beginning to end the cycle of domestic violence by giving school children tools to pre-qualify love.

The number of people who are victims of domestic violence has not changed in years. If we implement an educational program in school systems and in our communities, giving elementary school children tools to pre-qualify love, we will begin to see a decrease in violence. I will use a list of expectations as an example tool. Beginning this program with a simple list that each child creates, pointing out how he or she expects to be treated in all of his or her relationships, might be a way to begin. This list will act as a reference point for each child, perhaps for years to come. The first list may very well be the best list they ever make! This list allows children to begin thinking about how they want to be treated by people they love, and those who love them. This list makes it possible for educators to better identify children who are victims of domestic violence or are at risk to become victims or perpetrators of violence, thus offering children the chance to have happier lives and to understand they are entitled to being treated well and doing the same for others.

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    Oct 21 2011: Part of me thinks a simple list won't do anything to stop domestic violence, but the other part of me thinks, well it's something. It's a start.

    If it sets a strong foundation for kids then I think you really don't have anything to lose by attempting it. I wish we could start today.
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      Oct 21 2011: Hi Cale, We have started right here! Of course, other tools will be used as well to begin communication skills for youth and teachers. The list is an example I used when this conversation first began. We should all make our lists here!
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    Oct 20 2011: The idea is great, but consider this: Young children won't understand what different types of relationships are, it needs to be a continuous program that would allow the child to modify this list as new relationships form.
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      Oct 20 2011: Cale, Yes yes, I agree. It begins in a way that young children can understand and the educational program expands as the ability for children to be able to understand, and at a time when it is healthy for them to have information. Modification of the list is very personal and that original list, the one the seven year old makes, might be the best one they ever made. The list creates a reference point for each person and defines their own rules. And the rules one makes for one's self continues for a lifetime, growing, changing, as time goes by.
      Now, we can begin the end of the cycle of domestic violence, serving potential victims and perpetrators before they are in the middle of horrific situations. We are helping youth understand that we are looking out for them and teaching them how to know who they are letting in to their hearts by having tools to "pre-qualify" love and to know that they have a right to boundaries and that they can make the decisions about what their own rules are. We can only do these things if we begin a program of education so people have a chance to grow up with the information that how one is treated CAN have a set of personal standards. It can be done. Education is the way.
  • Oct 19 2011: Indeed a great idea, why can't we start with something so simple as just a real list, you know, one that may be entitled "This is what Love is, and this is Not what love is..." a basic simple list that would be read as part of the little packets that are sent to children at the beginning of school year, read in class, get the kids attention... many times the abuse starts so early that they have no idea that they are part of it
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      Oct 19 2011: Patricia,
      Agreed. we could start with a simple list. And it can begin early and be age appropriate beginning the educational process so we can begin, finally, to put a dent in the cycle of domestic violence. I envision a campaign with the LIST sponsored by...well, there are so many who can sponsor this simple and life saving needed message.
  • Oct 19 2011: Hi Kathryn,
    I love your idea! It must, start with the young! The horrific situations are real. (very real)
    The YWCA has money or resources to pull this off? (in California?) I must tell you, it is the MOM that has the ultimate burden of getting out! (some times the dad) I wish you, success in your idea!! Can you relate to this atrocity? With Respect to you Kathryn.
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      Oct 19 2011: Thank you, tishe,
      The YWCA has been fantastic in allowing me to key note out about my own experience and to share my ideas to begin the end of the cycle of domestic violence. Funding for this would need to be from a sponsor. I can relate to this atrocity. And my blessings go out to any person who is in this situation.
      • Oct 20 2011: That is what I thought. I really do wish you all the best!! With all my heart!! (I can relate too) With Respect to Ya!!
  • Oct 19 2011: Hi Kathryn,
    This is an excellent idea! It is a pipe dream but an excellent idea!! A few questions, who will fund this? The public schools are going tits up, as is. Now, another program to help the children? Teachers are not trained to spot and analyze the abuse cycle. (it is very well hidden) It Must start with anal man, that hits the anal woman, that puts up with it! Especially if said anal woman has kids! That is the only way, the abuse cycle, will ever stop. I love your idealism! It is just too bad, the public schools, could not handle this curriculum. It is sad to say, it is up to the mom to stop it! In this day and age, there are so many resources out there, there is NO excuse for it! (ESPECIALLY, if a woman has a child) The only way the "abuse cycle" will be broke is, for the woman to BREAK it!! I apologize, little too close to home. Good luck on your idea!! :) and at the same, sad subject :(
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      Oct 19 2011: I believe very much, that t must start with educating the young. It is the way. If we do this, we will have less adults in the horrific situation you speak of.It can be paid for my many different sources.I was beginning to work with the YWCA on this advocacy as a program after school.
  • Oct 18 2011: You know, I knew a couple in California from about 10 years ago. They were in their 40's to 50's then and were like Carlo Ponti and Sophia Loren. He was short, fat and with a winning personality. She was pretty, sexy and they both were brainy. They told me what they did was tell each other what they do want and don't want and will not put up with. That was in the realm of anger, violence or even the threat of it, not demeaning the other, yelling, swearing and so on. They each said if this is what you want and you are willing and committed to it, then let's do it. They have been together a long time and it seems to be working. I had never seen this nor even consciously thought of something like this. I wonder what life would have been like if I had not only been taught but had been told, about these "rights" but alas, many today don't agree that we have all these kinds of rights.

    I still think we need to eliminate the causes of violence first so that we can more aptly deal with what would then be rare forms or rare moments of violence, rather than what it is today. That is, today it is systemic thus, there are many strands to unravel in trying to understand it, prevent it and even stop it. It has been systemic for a long time and can strongly imply if not outright mean, it is not the person.
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      Oct 19 2011: Random Choice, I adore your story. We all should have the information that we CAN have conversations about what we want from others in our relationships. We, indeed need to let young people know the thought of who they let into their hearts, based on how they want to be treated, exists.
      I fear, however, that if we do not educate the young, while simultaneously understanding and eliminating the causes, or trying to lessen the causes, we will be stuck with the one in four people who are victims, keeping us in the same state we have been for so many years. It is time to add an educational program. It is the way.
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    Oct 14 2011: Kathryn, thanks for this post. I don't know where it was hiding, I saw it today for the first time!!!

    Your idea of a first list is great!
    Besides possibly being the first tale tell, this list can be, as you say, the best one they ever make. Usually children are so honest, simple and direct... they look at the world without all the filters that we adults became used to wear, so they are able to see the truth in all its transparency.

    I see that the idea of helping children to become aware of this in school, as part of the curriculum can have a huge impact. For them to realize how to love and be loved, and revise and update that list as they grow, can affect their communication in general, not just violent and abusive relationships. It may reduce the rate of teen age pregnancies and STD's, and alow for many more kids to complete their education instead of dropping off.

    To improve on it, I would add that teachers should be well trained on how to nurture self examination, self awareness, problem resolution, and communication in general allowing for personality differences. Most of us are not at the time...
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      Oct 19 2011: Karina, thank you.Yes teachers will need to be trained in order for them to be taken care of while caring for their students. But who better to do this than teachers. This education will work.
  • Oct 13 2011: What do you mean by "pre-qualify"?
    And based on a child's list, how will one be able to tell if that child is abused at home or not?
    And please be more specific: Once found out, what will the educators do to improve the situation?
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      Oct 13 2011: Hi Sarah,
      Pre-qualify sounds so crude when talking about relationships, I know. What I mean by the use of the word is simply, to see if the person one is considering, or falling into a relationship with or "hanging out" with, meets a certain set of personal standards that one has created. Just by having children write a list we are giving them tools to learn that they have a right to these kinds of expectations.
      We do this with almost every other decision we make, deciding on a car, on a bottle of wine, on schools we want to attend, etc. Teaching children these skill's and applying them to the person or people one allows in to ones life could be quite useful, especially if it is taught to young kids.
      The content on these lists will be transparent for aware educators. A child might write, "I don't want to be hit with a belt”. Or, "Be nice to me when I am bad”. Children write things that are very honest.
      If you read a list with these two things on it, would you feel a need to explore why the child wrote this?
      • Oct 13 2011: Yes I would want to find out the reason behind why they wrote it.
        But then what?
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          Oct 14 2011: As a teacher, I can tell you that we are instructed on what steps to take if we suspect abuse or family violence.
          Being passive and ignoring the possibility is not an option. If the suspicions are wrong, all the better. If they are correct, better now than later...
          Teachers will find a way to hear the student in non threatening ways (informal conversation, casual comments), or get information through a journal story, drawings, physical reactions, etc. If there are physical marks, the child will visit the nurse, regardless of the explanation given. Records are kept for a while. Then there is a consultation with the school counselor (s) from which recommendations follow. If clear, explicit abuse is reported by the student at any age before 18, the teacher is obligated by law to report the case to CPS.
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    Oct 13 2011: Ya ..... really great idea .....
    but what kind of morals or values that education will integrate .... ?
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      Oct 19 2011: Please tell me more about what you are asking?