ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — More than 30% of Rockford’s violent crime connects directly to domestic violence, and many of those impacted are kids.
The effects are being seen inside local classrooms, and Boylan Catholic High School’s freshman health teacher is warning students on signs that a relationship might be abusive.
Health class is not what it used to be at Boylan, as their teacher had added domestic violence to lesson plans. Some have described the topic as a crisis in the community, and it is one that Debbie Strejc wants to make sure her students recognize before it is too late.
” They’re just budding in their dating relationships, and if they don’t recognize what some red flags are, they think it’s normal,” Strejc said.
The class is offered to high school freshman and includes recognizing the signs of abuse at an early age. Those signs include when someone’s partner looks through their cell phone or prevents them from hanging out with friends, to name a few.
The City of Rockford said that one in four women are in an abusive relationship. The crime makes up nearly 40% of the city’s violent crime rate.
Members for the Family Violence Coordinating Council go to Boylan to teach freshman what a healthy relationship entails, including consent.
Some sophomores at the school said that the course is already helping.
“You don’t really think there’s physical abuse in these relationships, but through gossip and stuff in our grade you learn that there is abuse going on and that it’s not what it seems from the outside, and it’s different when you’re in that relationship,” said sophomore Gracie Rose.
“I think this class is important because you’re starting as a freshman, so you’ll have this in your mind your highschool career,” added sophomore Max Maroz. “You’ll be able to look for signs, physical or mental, and you’ll be able to go to an adult and tell them.”
Boylan also has signs up around the school with a help line for survivors. There are reportedly no courses given to Rockford Schools students related to domestic violence. The City of Rockford has been working aggressively to reach every avenue where they can reach children.
If you are a survivor of domestic or sexual violence, visit our Stateline Strong page for resources.