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Nurturing Healthy Relationships

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

We meet many people in our lives in our communities, work, school, travels and elsewhere.  Our ability to positively interact with others contributes to our ability to meet life's challenges.  We can help set our children on productive paths and help decrease violence by not overlooking the importance of healthy relationships in their success and having discussions with them about what it means to have a healthy relationship. 

Progress has been made in raising awareness about domestic violence, furthering prevention and increasing access to resources for victims.  However, room for progress remains.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that every minute, 24 people in the U.S. are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.  According to the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, so far this year, nine domestic violence-related homicides have occurred in Idaho.  Additionally, new data from a NO MORE survey, sponsored by the Avon Foundation for Women, indicates that important conversations about domestic violence and sexual assault are not happening.  Three out of four men in this country say they have not talked about domestic violence or sexual assault with their children.

Talking with our children about the issues they face can be helpful on their road to becoming productive adults.  One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is the ability to have and sustain healthy, mature relationships, built on respect and trust.  Discussing problems and educating about healthy relationships can reduce the violence and protect our children. 

In addition to talking with them about these issues, they are always watching us.  Witnessing violent acts of any sort can have a radical effect on how children grow up and interact with others.  I have visited shelters for victims of domestic violence.  Children who have witnessed violence against someone they adore, often by somebody they look up to, are significantly impacted. 

We can help show them what healthy relationships look like through our examples of kindness and respect to others.  The Office of Child Abuse and Neglect reported that fathers who treat mothers of their children with respect and appropriately deal with conflict are more likely to have boys who are less likely to act aggressively toward females and have girls who are less likely to become involved in violent or unhealthy relationships.  A number of resources are available to help teach our children about healthy relationships and help get the conversations started. 

These conversations are not easy.  However, we have valuable roles in our children's lives.  We cannot forfeit the opportunity to help set them on a good course.  Our interactions with others are a central part of our lives, and healthy relationships are a critical building block.  We have a responsibility to help nurture healthy relationships and thus reduce domestic violence. 

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