Sunday, September 23, 2018
Public safety

Ernest Hooper: CDC report sounds alarm for preventing domestic violence

Last week's arrest by St. Petersburg police of Joshua Thompson in the death of his girlfriend, Melinda Soria, came just days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that found more than half of female homicide victims are killed in connection to intimate partner violence.

The report's author characterized the issue as a public health problem crossing all racial and ethnic groups. And some of the findings indicate this situation is growing worse.

Among the suggestions for prevention: state laws limiting firearms access for persons under a domestic violence restraining order; pushing first responders to better identify women at risk of future violence; and teaching young persons safe and healthy relationship skills.

Locally, domestic violence advocate Julie Weintraub maintains a program through her Hands Across Tampa Bay nonprofit that can go into high schools and offer lessons about teen dating violence.

"We have to talk to the girls and the guys," Weintraub said. "We have to let them know they may break up, and it's going to hurt for a while, but they'll get past it and go on.

"Beating her, punching her, kicking her or shooting her should never be an option after a breakup or because they turn down your sexual advances. We have to say that, because they don't know."

Weintraub is willing to take the program to any school, but believes her program, like others, are currently underutilized.

The CDC is sounding the alarm, and if people like Weintraub can bring efforts into schools at no charge, school districts need to answer the bell.

That's all I'm saying.

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