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Royster students raise awareness of dating violence

Posted Date: 10/23/2018

Royster students in FCCLA have been raising awareness of dating violence among their peers at the middle school. The put posters in the hallways and facts in the daily announcements - facts they learned when planning this event.

“We actually looked at many topics,” including school shootings and suicide,” said FCCLA member Brinly Bancroft. “When we found the teen dating abuse site, the statistics and all the numbers, the numbers really stood out to us.”

Eighth grader Kamri Naff thumbed through her paperwork and pulled out the statistic that bothered her.FCCLA teacher adds black line to student's face to symbolize abuse

“The number of American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 -2012 is 6,408.The number of American women who were murdered by an ex male partner during that time frame is 11,766,” she read.

Middle and high school girls need to know about this, Preston Keating asserted. Partner violence is most common among girls between 12 and 24 years of age.

“We want to spread the word to reach as many people that we can and spread the knowledge we have about it,” Keating said.

They enlisted support from the CHS FCCLA to carry out the campaign at the high school. On Oct. 15, both groups drew a black line beneath a student’s eye every eight minutes to represent the frequency that someone is abused by a partner.  The actual number is every 8 hours, but they speeded up the process to show the impact within the school day.

Preston said she heard students talking about the lines as she walked down the hall, and other people saying, “That means that she’s abused.”

The next day they dressed in orange, a color symbolizing awareness, then as favorite partners from the movies, and concluded with a guest speaker talking to 8th graders through seniors about the red flags to an abusive relationship. 

Only one out of four parents talk to their kids about this, Bancroft said. It’s not a topic they bring up because parents think their kids should know that if they’re in an abusive relationship they should get out. The eighth graders will be going to the high school next year and this is something they should know about.

 Kaiti Dinges, who works for Jana’s Campaign, shared a few statistics with the students. It’s been 10 years since the video about Jana was made and some statistics have changed. It’s true that since Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, the instances of violence have dropped by 60 percent, but only among adult relationships, she said. For boys and girls between the ages of 11-17 the instances of violence in dating relationships is rising dramatically. The Centers for Disease Control calls it an epidemic.

Teens need to know the warning signs or red flags in a relationship, when a partner crosses the line from caring and love to power and control. The violence is not only physical. It starts with bullying behaviors that lead to harassment and eventually to assault.

“When they’re not respecting your boundaries, they’re not respecting you and that’s a red flag,” Dinges said.

There is a pattern of isolating the partner from friends and family, being jealous of time spent with other people and stalking, which can be done on snap chat and through the phone.chs students support royster's abuse awareness campaign

“Why are students still sending inappropriate pictures to one another?” she asked. The pictures do not disappear. They go to a snap chat server and can be accessed by police. Sexting can ruin lives and careers, she said, showing a series of headlines in Kansas newspapers.

Jana Mackey grew up in Hays, Kansas, went to the University of Kansas on a music scholarship, and then switched her major to women’s studies.  She worked at a safe center for women for six years and became an advocate for women who were victims of sexual violence. After graduation, she served as a lobbyist at the state capitol for three years, and then returned to KU to pursue a law degree. That’s where she met the man who murdered her three weeks after she broke up with him.

The message from Jana’s Campaign is to spread the word, Dinges said. Watch for the warning signs in personal relationships and those of friends, and tell someone or seek someone out. There are school counselors who are willing to listen and Hope Unlimited, Iola, is the domestic abuse shelter that serves this area.

Jana was six feet tall. She was extremely smart. She knew all the warning signs and still it happened to Jana, Dinges said  

“If it happened to Jana, it could happen to anyone. That is kind of scary,” Bancroft said.

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