New Domestic Violence Program Aims to Work with Schools

According to a study on family violence, over 15 million children live in households where partner violence has occurred (McDonald, 2006). Witnessing domestic violence can affect a child physically, emotionally, and mentally, putting them at higher risk to be depressed, aggressive, and anxious (Edelson, 2006). These children also have trouble expressing themselves in a healthy way. In addition, boys who witness violence have an increased risk of becoming abusers in their future relationships and girls have a higher chance of being victims of dating and domestic violence (Pelcovitz, 2009). School is one place where a child can feel safe and shielded from the violence at home; teachers and school staff are often the only stable relationship the child has with an adult (Kearney, 1999).

With that in mind, and with assistance from the Verizon Foundation, National Law Enforcement Museum program staff are creating a program to provide information and training to Washington-area teachers, school resource officers, and other school staff on what domestic violence is, and how witnessing domestic violence affects children. The training will also give school staff the tools they need to provide students with an outlet to get support and stay safe.

The National Law Enforcement Museum is working on this program because domestic violence is a long-term critical issue for law enforcement. More officers by far are assaulted or injured during domestic disturbance calls than any other circumstance (Floyd, 2007). In addition, the very nature of law enforcement is to keep people safe. An important part of this program will be building respect, trust and confidence between school staff (including the law enforcement officers in the school) and their students. With this program, our goal is to make sure schools are not only safe, but also places where children can get the support they need. This initiative will support the Museum’s mission to encourage open communication and foster interaction between law enforcement and the community.