What began with a single Day of Unity in 1981 soon evolved into an entire month dedicated to awareness of domestic violence, and last year, law enforcement was added to the equation in Broward County. Training tailored to address domestic violence was brought to stations throughout the county, and deputies are just the latest entities to focus on that once-taboo topic.
“We have sessions over three days for officers and leadership of not only the Broward Sheriff’s Office, but for police departments throughout the county,” explained Mary Riedel, president and CEO of Deerfield Beach-based Women in Distress of Broward County, of this year’s sessions in Davie and at the police academy. “It’s open, and it’s free.”
Since domestic violence began to gain currency in 1989, when October was set aside to heighten awareness, it has grown into a month-long contemplation of not just domestic violence, but of violence in many forms. This year, the observation begins Sept. 19 in Broward County with a discussion of bullying. It begins in a library.
“We have separate movements on domestic violence and bullying, but both are celebrated in October, the month dedicated to violence in general,” explained Lisa McClure, community engagement manager for the 37-library Broward County library system. “Libraries aren’t here just as beautiful memorials to books, but to serve the community.”
Bullying was a natural detour for the October observance, because Florida has the toughest anti-bullying law in the nation, she said.
In addition to discussions and events, the library system has compiled a list of eBooks, audiobooks and plain old books, ranging from young adult books on abuse to advice books on surviving adolescence.
Programming began Sept. 19, with a meeting of the Anti-Bullying Advisory Board — Springtime Foundation from 1:45 to 4:30 p.m. at Northwest Regional Library, 3151 N. University Drive, in Coral Springs.
On Oct. 6, Northwest Regional Library offers from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., “Grow Up Bully Free: Stop bullying before it starts.” Tailored for children in kindergarten through third grade, the program uses books, websites, an app and stories to teach children how to nip bullying in the bud. Graduates of the program take a pledge not to bully.
On Oct. 8, programming shifts to adults and domestic violence at the library at Lauderdale Lakes, 3580 W. Oakland Park Blvd., which offers an informational session on domestic violence called “Removing the Cover.” At the same time, Page Turners’ Book Club at South Regional Library will discuss Jon Krakauer’s “Missoula,” a harrowing tale of several Montana women’s assaults.
Oct. 17 wraps up the programming with Lauderhill Towne Centre Library offering free popcorn and a movie between 1 and 3 p.m., and Northwest Regional Library’s advisory board greeting people as they enter and inviting them to discuss the effects of bullying on children and/or register anonymous bullying complaints.
“Bullying someone who may be of a different culture or different sexual orientation: They are more open about it,” Riedel said, “but it is more pervasive.”
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