Centennial students hear domestic-violence lecture It's hard for victims to leave their abusers, speaker tells class

October 20, 1998|By Jill Hudson Neal | Jill Hudson Neal,SUN STAFF

Halfway through her lecture on domestic violence to a senior class at Centennial High School yesterday, Shelly Brown began a different sort of exercise.

Everyone was asked to stand. Then Brown, the director of community outreach for the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County, said, "I want you to stand on the left-hand side of the room if you agree with this statement: It's easy for a victim of domestic violence to leave their abuser."

One student out of 27 agreed with the statement; the rest offered reasons they thought it might be difficult for a victim of domestic violence to get out of an abusive relationship: fear, poor self-esteem, denial.

Brown's hourlong lecture -- one of about 15 she will give to high school students throughout the county this year -- was meant "to inform students about domestic violence in Howard County," she said. "We'd like to get to students and teach them about healthy relationships at a time when they're really beginning to think about these issues."

Students learned about the eight shelters in Howard for victims of domestic violence; statistics about the relationship between homelessness and battered women; the myth of drugs and alcohol being the cause of violence in the home; and the role of marital violence in various cultures.

Centennial senior Julia Papania, 17, said the lecture was "good, very helpful. I didn't know that there was a [domestic violence] center" in Howard. "It was also really good that they gave us the hot line number for the center in case it happens to us or someone we know."

The students heard the lecture during their sociology class, but Brown said the topic of domestic violence could be tackled in many other classes -- psychology, economics or history, for example.

However, Brown said educating children about domestic violence should begin in elementary and middle schools.

High school educators "are eager to have us come in and teach the kids," she said.

Pub Date: 10/20/98

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