Kentucky Girl Scouts have joined forces with the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association to teach young girls how to prevent the spread of domestic violence.
“If we can instill in our young people the important issues of domestic violence … perhaps we can foster a feeling of confidence in our young women,” said first lady Jane Beshear at a press conference announcing the partnership.
“What we want is to protect our young women from becoming victims of domestic violence.”
Beshear, along with members from the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana, the Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road Council and the KDVA, were in the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday to pledge their support for the new partnership.
October was also declared Domestic Violence Awareness month.
According to Beshear, the KDVA shelters take in more than 4,400 victims of intimate partner abuse each year and provide another 25,000 with services. Around the nation, someone dies every three minutes from the effects of domestic violence, she said.
Statistics like these are what inspired Susan B. Hansell, chief executive officer for Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Council, to get her girls involved. She and Lora Tucker, head of Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana, attended last October’s KDVA board meeting to see what they could do to help.
“(Ann Perkins, KDVA president) said, ‘We don’t want your girls to become our girls,’” Hansell said. “I get chills from the idea that any Girl Scout may become a victim.”
Since that meeting, the organizations have been working together to find ways the girls can contribute. The two Girl Scout organizations will be participating in “Shop and Share,” the program Beshear started in 2009 with Kroger in which the store collects money and supplies for shelters.
One of the results of the partnership is the launch of the Green Dot for Kids and Tots program, which is a series of workshops designed to teach kids how to stand up to bullies and show adults how to spot kids that could potentially become an aggressor or victim of domestic violence in the future.
The program teaches that red dots represent domestic violence or the failure to prevent or report it – and they are constantly multiplying, said Dr. Dorothy Edwards, founder of the program.
In order to cancel the red dots, Edwards said there need to be more green dots – which represent instances that someone prevents domestic violence or reaches out to a victim.
Edwards founded the Green Dot program while working as director of the University of Kentucky’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Center, which she also founded. The program was originally geared toward college and high school students, but Edwards thought they could make more progress if they started younger.
“Most of what we’re doing (at the college level) is undoing things … like the idea of ‘mind your own business,’ or ‘don’t be a tattletale,’” Edwards said. “But if we start in kindergarten, we’re not undoing anything.”
“We’re setting the norm instead of having to change the norm.”
In the Green Dot for Kids and Tots program, Edwards said children will be taught how to deal with bullies and how to reach out to victims of bullying.
Edwards said those at risk of becoming victims of domestic violence have low self-esteem or feel isolated. She said children should work to include each other to prevent violence from happening in the future.
Teachers will be taught how to spot kids who exhibit behavior that could lead to domestic violence in the future. While none of these behaviors guarantee the child will grow up to become violent, Edwards said those who do typically had a bad relationship with the school system, bullied children, were alienated in school or were mean to animals.
The Green Dot for Kids and Tots will be implemented in the spring. Edwards said if it works well for the Girl Scouts, she’d like to expand it to elementary schools and other child organizations.