This morning as I perused the local news, I saw yet another letter by a ‘concerned citizen’ bemoaning the fact that on Superbowl Sunday there will be more incidents of domestic violence than at any other time of year.
That is a made up statistic by, who knows? Yet despite several years of attempts to dispel the myth, it continues to rear its’ ugly head. But since you’re already thinking about it, let’s talk about family violence.
So what do you need to remember about domestic violence? It costs YOU a lot of money.
The first year of a child’s life is important for brain development. Intimate violence in the family can impact an infant’s brain development and impair cognitive and sensory growth.
Once they start school, these children show poor concentration and focus; 40% had lower reading abilities than children from non-violent homes. Instead of looking at the reason why these kids act this way, an overwhelmed school system focuses on the behavior, which leads to these kids being labeled and placed on medication.
As teenagers, these kids are at greater risk for substance abuse, juvenile pregnancy and criminal behavior. They are more likely to be violent than children who grow up in nonviolent homes.
These are children who are more likely to end up homeless, involved in the criminal justice system, and have difficulty holding down a job.
Of course, many of these kids go on to become adults who are productive members of society, but they still have problems such as increased risk of substance abuse, health problems, and increased risk for depression.
And this costs me how?
You are on the hook for increased education costs as school systems evaluate these children, provide special education services, and hire additional staff to manage these children’s behavior. Your kids also suffer when an already overwhelmed teacher has to take her or his attention away from teaching the compliant kids to deal with this one that’s acting a fool in the classroom.
You pay for child protective investigations, services provided to the family, and the cost of incarceration for these kids.
And you’ll pay for the service provided to them as they are homeless, their mental health treatment, the salaries of the law enforcement officers they invariably encounter and the cost of incarcerating them.
So what do we need to do for families where we suspect (or know) domestic violence is present?
Report the family to your state’s child protective services agency. Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence are also likely to be victims of abuse or neglect themselves.
Call the police. Sadly, here in Florida, most charges of domestic battery are dropped if the victim requests it, but that’s not true now in many states. The state will still prosecute the perpetrator even if the victim does not cooperate.
I know, you don’t want to get involved. You don’t want to be a snitch. You’re afraid the perp will turn on you. I get that. But when you break down what domestic violence in another home costs you, it’s worth it to face your fears and do the right thing.
And do it anytime you become aware of violence, not just during the Superbowl.