Many of you know but some outside our work might be surprised to learn that half the clients we serve in Texas domestic violence programs are children. Many of the children have experienced serious violations of their trust and their confidence. The impact of domestic violence can have long- lasting effects on the children and the battered parent, ranging from physical to psychological. For some children, the violence impacts their behavior and many times their educational goals. In this issue we highlight Back to School. August is a time when children and their parents start preparing for back to school: buying outfits, shoes and new school supplies. The family violence programs across Texas face the challenge of assisting many families find the perfect back to school outfits and supplies.
Several programs in Texas operate on-site schools. Having an on-site school offers a great opportunity to help support the emotional/psychological needs as well as the educational needs of the students and families we serve. So many times these needs are separated but, as humans, we come in one package. Although it can be difficult to meet all the needs of children and their parent, it is important that we all take an active role in their continued safety and security. Offering a more holistic way to support the children and their mothers is becoming more and more the norm.
Having the recent Sandusky trial in all our collective thoughts reminds us that as adults we must make sure that all children are taken care of, all children are listened to, and all abusive people held accountable for their behavior. In all settings, we must do what we can.
We can learn how to listen, be proactive and help the children and the parent navigate the world around them. It makes sense that we are part of the solution.
We can all make a difference to the children and the parents in these situations. Even something as small as a smile can mean so much. When I see the smile in their eyes I see hope.
Melinda Cantu, MSSW, Director of Shelter Services, and
Yvette Mendoza Rouen, Director of Children’s Services
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