Young People Are The Future Of This Movement
Certain problems in this world can be solved, but remain unchallenged. Human nature often compels us to ignore the elephant in the room instead of addressing the issue; over time this willful apathy creates social norms. I define this particular aspect of human nature because I, too, have been guilty of allowing certain problems, like domestic violence and sexual assault, to go undiscussed and unexamined.
I soon realized that by staying silent, I was contributing to the problem.
As an 8-year-old, I started helping out at the East Texas Crisis Center, a non-profit where my mother works as a family violence program coordinator. At the time, I was shielded from the victims that came in seeking the safety, shelter, and education that the center provides for those experiencing family violence, sexual assault, and other violent crimes. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to help more in the public spaces within the Crisis Center, allowing me to hear far too many awful stories of abuse, and to see the large number of women that enter the facility daily seeking refuge. I have also learned that my own family, as well as multiple friends’ families, has been affected by domestic violence.
These things disturbed me, but until now I continued my volunteering duty in silence and chose not to speak out about the crises that families in this shelter were facing. I soon realized that by staying silent, I was contributing to the problem. Not that I was committing the horrendous acts against these people, but I was witnessing such terrible injustice on a local level and and choosing not to take action.
While deliberating on how to confront these issues in a more impactful way, I saw a NO MORE commercial on television. Athletes were challenging the audience and their fellow athletes to speak out and get others involved to end domestic violence and sexual assault. The commercial stood out to me for two reasons: 1) I am an athlete, affording me an elevated platform from which to speak in my community, 2) “speaking out” is what I had yet to do. Upon visiting nomore.org, I learned “The NO MORE symbol is not owned by any one organization. Rather it belongs to and is available for use by all those (organizations or individuals) who are committed to help end domestic violence and sexual assault.”
After learning it was possible for the East Texas Crisis Center to adopt the NO MORE logo and slogan, I realized this would be a great platform for me to speak out and raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault within my community. And because I had been volunteering at the Crisis Center for much of my life, I felt I had credibility in speaking about these issues. My mother, of course, was ecstatic about launching the campaign, and a few weeks ago we launched our East Texas Says NO MORE Initiative.
I believe that young people are the future of this movement, and that by starting in schools, we can change and shape attitudes in East Texas.
My goal for this campaign is to challenge high school coaches in East Texas to be proactive in raising awareness around domestic violence and sexual assault. I want them to realize that many of the kids they are coaching and love so much have likely been affected by some form of domestic or sexual violence. I want them to realize someone in their family is probably a survivor. I want them to understand that possibly one out of every three students they see walking around campus each day has either been in an abusive relationship, or has witnessed one. Educating the coaches and Athletic Directors will cause a trickle-down effect beginning with them educating student athletes, who are already leaders in their communities. Ultimately, we can reach the entire student body, and finally breach each individual’s household. I believe that young people are the future of this movement, and that by starting in schools, we can change and shape attitudes in East Texas.
I challenge student athletes across the country to be leaders in their communities and say ‘NO MORE’ to domestic violence and sexual assault.
Want to say ‘NO MORE’ in your community? Download the free Tools to Say NO MORE and start using the tools to raise awareness in your community or to create your own local initiative.
Jaired Maddox is a graduating senior at All Saints Episcopal School in Tyler, Texas. A member of the All Saints basketball team since 8th grade, Jaired plans to study Business and Sports Management at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, this Fall. He plans to continue raising awareness around sexual assault and domestic violence on campus. To get involved with his local campaign in East Texas, please contact the East Crisis Texas Center.
For dating abuse help and resources, visit loveisrespect.org, call 1-866-331-9474, or text “loveis” to 22522.