South Carolina has been in the top 10 states for women killed by men for more than 15 years, with a domestic violence rate more than twice the national average. This won’t change until we unite as a community to address this costly and deadly problem.
Despite the implication of its name, interpersonal violence isn’t a private matter that should only be addressed at home. We must discuss this at school, church and anywhere else people gather. Domestic and sexual violence are costing our state millions of dollars each year and countless lives.
SC ranks No. 1 for deadly violence against women
The best way to stem the tide of violence is to provide young young people with primary violence prevention education as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Our Youth Violence Prevention curriculum helps young people build communication, boundary setting and other relationship skills that prepare them to have healthy friend and dating relationships. They learn to safely intervene as bystanders to end violence much like the anti-smoking campaign worked to dramatically reduce the number of new smokers.
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We must equip our children with these skills to break the cycle. The domestic violence law signed by Gov. Nikki Haley this summer requires schools to educate students on domestic violence; Erin’s Law requires them to provide education on sexual violence for grades K-12. Unfortunately, there’s no mechanism to make schools comply, so parents and community members must advocate for youth to receive the appropriate education.
Primary prevention addresses the societal problems that lead to domestic and sexual violence. It is often illustrated with a story of a person standing at a river watching people float by and drown. The person cannot save the hundreds of people who continue to drown, but instead goes upstream and finds where they are falling into the river and builds a bridge. We must serve people impacted by domestic and sexual violence, but it is irresponsible not to go upstream and build a bridge.
Please join us in building the bridge that will end domestic and sexual violence in our community. Make sure your schools or youth groups have invited Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands to implement our curriculum. Talk to the young people in your life about sexual and domestic violence and the important role we all play in ending violence. Don’t delay acting; our future depends on you.
Executive Director, Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands