“Yeah, I’d leave before it escalated and got to that point,” sophomore Shaquasia Moss nodded in agreement.
There were similar conversations buzzing between students along the track at the school during the Walk for Knowledge event on Thursday.
The event, which was sponsored by the health care classes and the HOSA Future Health Professionals Students, focused on dating and domestic violence. Representatives from the Hospitality House for Women, The Harbor House, the Sexual Assault Center of Northwest Georgia, and local law enforcement and EMS attended with different informational booths set up around the track.
Bonnie Goulding, a health care science teacher, said the idea for the event came from students who attended the Hospitality House’s candle light vigil event last year.
“They were really moved by it and wanted to participate in it,” she said. “The purpose of the walk is to promote domestic violence awareness. We kind of have evolved this idea from last year.”
Because many events happen during the school day, Goulding said she decided to gave a more school-focused event at the school that would educate students about the dangers of domestic violence and assault. Using a scavenger hunt list of facts, the students visited the different booths and learned information about the warning signs and effects of violence.
“From the health care field, we’re looking at it not just as prevention and awareness for you own sake, but in how you deal with those patients,” she said, adding that police officers and EMTs talked to students about the process of responding to domestic violence situations and how they handle situations with victims.
The Hospitality House, which sponsors the silent witness program, set out silhouettes of victims who lost their lives to domestic violence in Floyd County during the last 10 years. The students stopped along the track and read the tragic stories.
“A lot of these kids have already experienced (dating or domestic) violence,” Goulding said. “They’ve shared information and we’ve talked about it. This is giving them the tools they need to hopefully spot it before it happens and get out of the situation if necessary.”
Freshman Mason Gilbert said it was a sad, but eye-opening experience.
“It is really sad knowing that people have to live through this every day,” Gilbert said, adding that he wanted to donate to the various organizations that would assist victims.
Ashley Chapman with the Hospitality House said she and Amy Weaver, the safe house’s director, were happy to inform the students and create awareness.
“We were happy to be here since it’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month and we get to talk to teens about that,” she said. “One in three teens will experience dating violence or dating abuse.”
Kimberly King, legal advocate for the Sexual Assault Center of Northwest Georgia, said she could tell the students were taking the knowledge to heart.
“I can tell by their expressions, like, ‘wow, I didn’t know that,’” she said. “For instance, their preconceptive notion of the time a particular (statutory rape) offender could be in jail is five years, but really it’s like 20 for breaking the consensual age law. They’re definitely learning something new.”
Freshmen Isabella Schitz and Hannah Van Curen said the event made them want to reach out to victims.
“Now that we see this, it makes you want to help them and give money,” Schitz said.
“It’s upsetting because of the stories,” said van Curen. “And we’re just kind of learning about the other side of life that none of us knew about and it kind of opened us up to it.”