The Be Project: Empowering Youth to be part of the solution to end relationship violence

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Aug 13, 2020


Sex Education by Savyon Tiller

Hi! My name is Savyon Tiller, now a senior student in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD. As part of the Be Project teen leadership group this summer, I learned about the upcoming revisions to our Health TEKS (standards for health education). The sex education taught in schools is downright outdated and we’ve been taught either inaccurate information or information so vague we don’t even fully understand what it means.

My school district started to teach us some sex ed back in 5th grade as part of PE. It was mainly about how babies are made. It taught us the word consent but not what it means and how it works. When I moved on to 6th and 7th grade, my friends began talking about sexual stuff more than we used to, yet the only thing the school talked about was sexting and that it's bad. They never talked more about puberty and hormones in your body, or healthy relationships. In my school, three students were expelled for committing sexual acts at school but nothing was discussed with the school as a whole. Stuff like that happens more and more, like teen pregnancy and HIV, not only in my high school, but most high schools in Texas.

High school students’ problems don’t come from only sexual situations either--it's also the whole situation of a healthy relationship and how to avoid a toxic relationship that can lead to rape and abuse. I know people who were in an unhealthy relationship and didn’t get out until after it had already turned abusive. According to the most recent Crime in Texas report (2018) from the Texas Department of Public Safety, there were 19,816 sexual assault incidences in a single year.

In a world of media where we are constantly misinformed about relationships and consent, why haven't our schools given us the information we need instead of just saying sex is bad? When we aren’t given information from credible sources, we turn to the internet and other media for sex education. You wouldn't believe how many sexual predators harass and take advantage of kids online. If we had education about relationships, sex, and consent thoughout all of middle school and high school, there might not be as many of these problems in the first place.

We must include medically-accurate and age-appropriate abstinence-plus sex education in the Health TEKS update. I respectfully urge readers to contact the State Board of Education and request that they include standards in the Health TEKS that are medically-accurate and data-driven and that provide students with the tools they need to be healthy and safe.

If we and the future generations don’t know what healthy relationships are supposed to look like, how do we prevent unhealthy/abusive relationships from happening?

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Nov 13, 2017


Warning Signs by Tiffany Wicks

There are a lot of mass shootings in America. There are so many, that, some of us become desensitized to the information. However, the events of  Sunday’s shooting in Texas really shook me. Not because it was in my own state, but because this could have been avoided if domestic violence and sexual assault were taken more seriously on a national level.

From recent news reports, the shooter had an extensive history of hurting others. There were calls to the house about domestic abuse occurring, and the police called it “teenage drama”. While in the Air Force, he was court martialed for assault on his wife and son, and was thrown in military jail for a year. In 2014, there was a charge of harming an animal. And, most recently, there was an open case of sexual assault. This man had a long list of not only red flags, but of actual violent acts. Yet, he still was able to kill 26 people, most of whom were children. The presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increased the risk of homicide by 500%. In the United States, domestic violence abusers accounted for 10% of all gun, but those with a history of domestic abuse account for 54% of all mass shootings. 1 

The problem lies within the issue of domestic violence still not being seen as an issue that affects lives beyond the abuser, victim and their immediate family. In this case, he was mad at his mother-in-law, and went to her church to kill others. Ultimately, he killed his wife’s grandmother. This was a large display of exerting power and control over another person. Was this a way to show his wife that crying for help to her mother was not acceptable to him? Was this a way to threaten her more and show her she can’t run or hide from him because he will kill her loved ones? I can almost bet that one of those things is true. However, if military, police officers, justice officials understood the warning signs and impact of domestic violence, would this event ever have occurred?

The Washington Post published a poignant article that addresses domestic violence as a national security issue. Karen Attiah asks, “How many Americans must be felled by bullets have to happen before we understand that the safety of women and children at home is not just a private matter but also essential to public safety?” 2  This question is so relevant. When will this issue come to light in a way that takes abuse seriously enough to protect current and future victims? Better yet, when abusers are held accountable in the justice system as in this case of this shooter, when do we extend accountability toward a path of rehabilitation?

I don’t have the answers to all these questions, but something must be done. Currently, while we mourn as a nation, we must also educate ourselves on the warning signs. Don’t stop learning and sharing this knowledge. We may not change policy or the protocols in the justice system right away, but we may save a life and get them to safety. And, hopefully one day, we can come to a place where abusers are held emotionally accountable as equally as criminally accountable so that one life who was saved can turn to two.

If you or a loved one are in an abusive situation, The Family Place can help. We offer a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter, counseling, and job and housing assistance. If your partner has agreed to seek help, we offer batterer’s intervention services and partner advocacy for family rehabilitation. For more information, please visit http://www.thefamilyplace.org or calling 214.941.1991. For information on bringing intervention education to your community, please email the beproject@familyplace.org.

 

1https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/11/07/562387350/in-texas-and-beyond-mass-shootings-have-roots-in-domestic-violence
2https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2017/11/06/texas-shooting-shows-that-domestic-violence-is-a-national-security-issue/?utm_term=.5173e989150d

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