One of my Facebook friends and loyal readers, Ginnie Ann Daniels, inspired me to pen this present piece about how good parenting can eliminate domestic violence. Ginnie taught her children at an early age about how not to abuse others and those values have persisted throughout their lives. Children are very impressionable. What you do and say to a child can stay with him or her a lifetime. We all know that the horrible things that you say to your child can be very damaging, but we need to know that the positive things that we say to children can last them a lifetime. If we educate our female and male children that it is an abominable thing to engage in abusing others, then we can make significant progress toward ending domestic violence. You have to educate your children about not engaging in any type of violence if we are to end domestic violence. We have to teach children that violence is not simply physical, but it can be mental and emotional. You don’t have to lay your hands on a person to abuse him or her. It is important for us to communicate this to children. When they have an early understanding about abuse and the harm that it does, then the anti-violence values we place in them will be much more likely to persist throughout their adulthood.
I contend that good parenting must include education about how to be a civil person. When you abuse someone, you are not being civil. Parents have a responsibility to teach their children about how to be civil members of society.
Don’t think that just because you have girls that this excludes you from teaching them about not abusing others. Females engage in abusing males too. Don’t get it twisted! It is much less talked about and underreported. Teach your girls about how to respect other females and males.
I strongly oppose parents who rear their boys to become thugs. When you rear your boys to become thugs or to develop overly aggressive behavior, you are making them ripe candidates to be abusive to women. The overly aggressive and thuggish behavior that they develop as little children will most likely continue on into their adult lives. You have a great opportunity to train them as little boys to develop healthier behavior that is going to promote civility.
Schools need to play a stronger role in helping children to learn about and understand the different forms of violence. Our children need to have a more sophisticated understanding about what abuse and violence is. I would like to see schools that use “character education” place more emphasis on educating students about different forms of violence and abuse. I think that even History courses serve as valuable opportunities to teach students about how to avoid abuse and violence and to educate them about the consequences of abuse and violence. For instance, when discussing issues about war, this gives teachers an opportunity to tell students about how abuse and violence played an instrumental role in the causes and consequences of the war(s) being discussed.
Although I want schools to increase their efforts to educate students about abuse and violence, I want parents to place an even greater emphasis on education about abuse and violence. Don’t always look for schools to be the answer to the social, cognitive, and emotional development needs of your children.
I am not saying that you should not teach your children about self-defense, but what I am saying is that you should teach them to avoid unnecessary abuse and violence.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison