Coordinated Community Response Column

Summer is coming to a close and it is now time to make room for school supplies, backpacks, brown bag lunches, homework and early bedtimes. The back-to-school season can be a wonderful time of year, but also a stressful time, especially for children living in homes where domestic violence is present.

Children who experience domestic violence are prone to more negative behaviors, which can lead to poor academic performance. Their home life is typically chaotic and unpredictable – perhaps they are more tired because of a disruptive sleep pattern, perhaps they are unable to concentrate because they have a poor diet. Also, they are more likely to have a negative self-image, and usually display disruptive behaviors or struggle with authority figures. Ultimately, they are set up to fail and left to their own devices to find their way through a system they do not know how to navigate.

School is a place where all of our children come together and learn from each other. If we turn our eyes away from someone who needs help, then we are teaching our children to do that as well. Teach them compassion – especially toward those who have less than us. Teach them to be kind – as we never know when we may need a kind hand to help us through. Teach them to be trustworthy – a friend may need their trust some day and your children needs to understand the importance of honoring trust. Teach them to be funny – sometimes our sense of humor is the only thing that will get us through. Teach them to lead by example – being the best they can be is a huge inspiration to others.

Communication is also essential throughout the course of the school year. Communication between parent and child – set aside time each day to talk to your child about their school day and address any concerns they may have. Communication between parent and school – be an advocate for your child because if you don’t, no one else is going to. Communication from community to schools – be knowledgeable of the culture in your local schools and participate in areas that are important to you. If people are open to the opportunity for dialogue, it can have a great impact. All it takes is one conversation.

As the new school year commences, we must remember that we have to work together to create the environment we want our children to be raised in. It does not happen with one person – it takes a village. Some day we will send these kids to college, or their first job, and we must trust we have done our best to ensure they can navigate the world without us. Wishing all children in Door County a happy and successful school year!