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Experts Work to Educate Public During Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Sept. 30, 2006 — Domestic violence continues to pose a significant problem in the Virgin Islands, said Dr. Iris Kern, executive director of The Safety Zone. The Zone joins with the Family Resource Center, the Women's Coalition, Legal Services and other agencies to raise community awareness.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month across the Virgin Islands and nationwide. Kern, who has worked in the field of domestic-violence prevention for more than 13 years, said V.I. service providers have done a phenomenal job providing services to victims. But much work remains to change the attitudes surrounding domestic violence, she said.
Domestic violence has reached "epidemic proportions," Kern said. Until women and children are no longer seen as "property to be controlled," she said, domestic violence will continue to rise. Kern characterized domestic violence as an issue of power and control, not anger management, while acknowledging that the problem is not "gender specific," meaning some women act as aggressors.
Kern highlighted this years' essay contest, which is a new addition to St. John's Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities. She said it was important to include children as young as 7 in domestic-violence discussions.
Experts like Kern encounter domestic violence issues "every time we go into the schools," she said, noting that domestic violence comes in several forms: physical, verbal and emotional.
Raising awareness remains an important issue, Kern said.
"I hope people will support the activities and that this will be the biggest march ever," she said. "We have so far to go."
Domestic Violence Awareness Activities on St. John
Library campaign: display of books dealing with domestic violence and recruitment opportunities.
Letter-writing contest open until Oct. 15 for children in grades 2 12. Subject: "Why is it important to stop domestic violence?"
Table-tent campaign for all restaurants, bars and employee cafeterias.
Outreach campaign. Visit local schools on weekdays and churches on Sundays to give informational presentations on domestic violence.
Take Back the Night march and candlelight ceremony, scheduled for 6 – 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, starting from the tennis courts and continuing to Cruz Bay Park.
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