This editorial is written to bring greater awareness of Domestic Violence issues to parents, coaches, mentors, and anyone else who cares enough to help young men break the cycle of violence in their homes. The issue of Domestic Violence is taboo in almost every segment of our society and culture, yet it touches so many lives every day. Young boys see their mothers, aunts and sisters violated by abusive men, and are often unable to help the women they lovefight-off these brutes.
The long-term impact on these boys is significant however, and the retaliatory feelings they have can carry-on for decades. The result is often a repeated cycle of violence in their own adulthoods, or a serious hatred for any man who looks like their mother's tormentor. The boys are angry with their mothers for allowing this creep to stay in the home, and they're angry with the men for being so outrageous. The boys are angry with themselves for not being able to do more, and they're angry with society for allowing such behaviors to go on, seemingly unchecked.
Against a backdrop of violence within our society, including violent videos, violence on prime time TV shows, violence on the news, and violence in the conversations they have with each other, urban boys have all thought of hitting or stomping a young rival. They have nearly all performed a wrestling move while playing, and there are heated moments (even fights) during playground sporting competitions. Boys are naturally aggressive, and when that aggression links up with stupidity, you will have unwarranted violence. Urban boys also have a loose understanding of "the Pimp game", where women are a mere commodity, jewelry and cash are measures of success, cars are the primary status symbol, and bravado is the juice that keeps it all going. Pimps hit their women, ostensibly to control them, but mostly because this is the nature of the "Game". Violence and misogyny go hand-in-hand, and young boys see so man examples of these twin evils, even before they enter junior high.
As I drive around town, sometimes near the end of a school day, I see hundreds of children walking home, frolicking, and engaged in animated conversations. Occasionally, I come upon a fight between young boys, but all too frequently, I see a boy fighting with a girl. This was the lowest form of masculinity when I was growing up. You certainly didn't want to lose a fight to a girl, and boys were trained not to hit girls. The Hip-Hop artist "T-Payne" has been in the news lately because of some really raunchy lyrics and videos, and a truly degrading television show recently that I didn't see. I tend to blame Hip-Hop moguls and marketers for nearly all of the ills and ignorance affecting urban boys today. But domestic violence has its roots in virtually all socio-economic influences on urban children. It is socially acceptable to denigrate women and girls, and it is now normal for a segment of urban boys to curse and disrespect female teachers, parents, siblings, girlfriends, and ultimately, their future wives. Men should never hit women; boys should never hit girls. We must begin to train our boys to protect the women in their lives, including their mothers, sisters, aunts, and girlfriends. Boys have to be trained that their anger should never be violently directed toward females.
The 110 Institute.com recently launched a full-scale domestic violence prevention Campaign for 2010. The core of the initiative is to support the work of the YWCA Abused Women's program and Emergency Shelter, along with the work of the Exchange Club, and any other Domestic Violence Prevention efforts. The 2010 Campaign trains young boys to protect the women and girls around them, and advocates for legislation that puts teeth into Protective Orders filed against violent men. We recommend that all women master basic self-defense, and that we establish "distress signals" for women who literally can't get away from their abuser for even five-minutes. But mostly, we have to break the cycle of urban boys seeing abuse and violence early in their lives, and then turning out to be abusers themselves, due largely to unresolved anger toward their mothers and the abusive men they chose to be involved with.
Men should never hit women in anger, and boys must be taught never to hit girls. If we don't begin to educate urban boys in Elementary School about domestic violence prevention, we will continue to grow a very dangerous crop of men who have no regard for the sanctity of womanhood, and there will be few-if-any eligible men for the next generation of your daughters to marry. And guys, if you have to beat a woman to control her or to gain her respect, then she's really not your girl anyway.