Call For A School-Based Preventative Approach To Domestic Violence Among Latinos In Washington State

Libby Culclasure

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This report examines approaches to reducing domestic violence against Latino youth in Washington State. Unique socio-economic, political, and cultural circumstances affecting Latinos perpetuate a high rate of domestic violence that increases with subsequent generations born in the United States. These factors also restrict Latinos’ access to resources, which impedes incident reporting. Domestic violence programs have traditionally focused on after-the-fact approaches, such as intervention, batterers’ treatment, and victim support services. For these reasons, I chose to focus on prevention efforts targeted at Latino youth that will ideally transform the behaviors and beliefs that are causes of dating and spousal abuse, while educating and engaging the Latino community on the topic of domestic violence.

Methods:

Sources consulted in the process of this investigation include scholarly literature pertaining to domestic violence overall and specifically with regard to Latinos; state and national statistical databases; interviews with domestic violence program coordinators, police officers, a minister, and several survivors; and case studies of prevention programs in the form of general violence prevention efforts for Latino adolescents, or domestic violence prevention for all youth.

Findings:

Successful programs tend to involve the following:

  • A collaborative effort joining schools, communities, and families.
  • A combination of presentations, discussions, and creative projects.
  • Support groups for teen victims and intervention for teen batterers.
  • Educating youth about their legal rights and responsibilities, of the avenues available to them for seeking help, and on how to employ reasoning, communication, and anger-management skills.
  • Specifically encouraging Latinos to embrace their cultural heritage in the process of addressing domestic violence.

Recommendations:

  • The core curriculum should be integrated periodically over the course of three years into middle school health classes.
  • The program will include training for peer-educators, mentors, school nurses and counselors, teachers, and other school administrators.
  • This initiative can draw funding from two recent Washington State bills: Providing for Family and Consumer Science Education and The Domestic Violence Prevention Account.

Community Partners:

Mario Paredes and Elida Espinoza, Consejo


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