Monday, February 8, 2010

Love is Respect

My daughter and son-in-law don't have a perfect relationship. No one does. But they work things out. They are both fortunate to have jobs they can do at home and to have a small farm with two horses, two cats, two goldens, and a bunny. In their "spare" time, they build stone walls together, plan and do house and land renovations themselves or with hired or volunteer help. They've created new pastures, grown vegetables and flowers, improved their barn, moved a run-in shed and are constantly creating and working together on new projects.

Too bad most intimate relationships are not like theirs. These relationships, starting with dating, should be built on mutual respect but this does not happen with so many of today's kids. It's not that violence is new. It's that it is so much more easily hidden with texting, sexting, IM'g, cell phones, absent or uninvolved caretakers, etc. And let's not forget parents and other adults who model violence. Or the media which often glorify it.

To date, four states have passed laws requiring public schools to provide courses that teach respect in relationships, starting at the middle school level where true dating often starts. CT is not one of these states, though our rates of dating and domestic violence are higher than the national average.

As I revise my YA novel, SHELTER, I am aware that I barely describe the tip of an iceberg that sinks mainly girls and women every single day and for years afterward. The most I can hope for, if it's published, is that it helps some of these girls stay away from the iceberg and out of the water.

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