With each passing day, we are hearing numerous stories of sexual assault and violence. I expect that there will be many more. We must continue to hold those who commit sexual violence accountable, regardless of their position in the community, their power, their fame, or their wealth. This is a critical moment. We are encouraged that so many survivors, many of whom have remained silent for years or decades, feel comfortable enough now to speak publicly. So what do we say to our children and teenagers about this? Our children are immersed in a culture that has looked the other way when it comes to rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence. This has created a breeding ground for predators and abusers to continue exerting power and control over others.
When children witness domestic violence they are more likely to become victims or perpetrators in later relationships. The statistics are frightening: 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience some form of abuse, whether physical, sexual or verbal, from a dating partner. That abuse starts early.
We believe that domestic violence can be prevented through YES (Youth Empowerment Services) in the schools. Our programs promote positive gender roles, teach skills for healthy relationships, and counter patterns of violence that begin early in life, such as bullying, street violence, and violence in the home. Students learn that standing up to peers engaging in abusive behaviors can create social change.
In 35 years, we have made great strides toward achieving our mission of ending domestic violence. And yet, we have so much more work to do. Only 50% of our operations are funded through state and federal contracts, while the rest are reliant on fundraising and events.
Today is #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving. A gift in support of our Youth Empowerment Services will have a direct impact on children in our community as we work together to provide them with the tools they need to ensure their futures are bright and filled with hope. If we are serious about stopping the cycle of abuse and sexual assault, we must start with children. We must come together to provide services for those who need them, when they need them.
Thank you for your generosity, and I hope that we can count on your commitment to helping end domestic violence.