Community Benefit Stories
Breaking the Cycle of Family Violence
The statistics are all too familiar: Approximately three million children a year are exposed to family violence. Too often, the emotional, behavioral, physical, social and cognitive effects of domestic violence on children go unaddressed.
Recognizing this need, Froedtert Hospital contracted with the Task Force on Family Violence (now Sojourner Family Peace Center) to help make a difference in the lives of students at Westside Academies (WSA) I and II elementary and middle schools, where Froedtert provides a school nurse. Located in one of Milwaukee’s Westside urban neighborhoods, the two schools have a combined student population of over 650.
Sojourner Family Peace Center staff worked with Froedtert’s staff and school personnel to design a six-session program for third and seventh grade students to address their specific needs around family violence. Topics covered included media and violence, peaceful conflict resolution, staying safe, emotions and anger, communication and relationships. By the end of the very successful six-week program, students noticeably benefited from learning the differences between passive, aggressive, and assertive communication. This comment from a seventh grade student represents the sentiments expressed by many of the other students: “Doing stuff by force isn’t the best way to solve things.” For some of the students this was their first time learning about non-violent alternatives to problem solving. These communication tools the students can use themselves and also share with family members.
Because of the successful outcome, the school principal approved continuing the program into the next school year. Again, Froedtert will contract with Sojourner Family Peace Center to design Phase II. The focus will be more on training the returning eighth graders--who previously participated in the program as seventh graders--to act as peer counselors, working with an adult to co-facilitate sessions for other students. Holding programs at schools like WSA is how the cycle of family violence will be broken--one student at a time.
Last Review Date: Oct. 23, 2009
Online Editor(s): Richard Petre