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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 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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