The last few days I’ve been bombarded with images and discussion topics about domestic violence and child abuse. My dual-enrolled students were asked to choose an image to write a visual analysis for their English 1302 course, and for some reason a majority of my juniors have chosen PSAs depicting domestic violence and child abuse.
I’m all for allowing students to choose what they want to write about, but sometimes these images hit me to the core, especially the ones dealing with children. I have to say that I am blessed to not have any personal experience with such ugliness, but I have to be realistic; I’m sure that at least a few of my students probably know of someone who does. I pray that none of them experience that kind of hell.
So as they choose to write about these PSAs, I remind them that they need to convey the overall message. What is the artist/creator trying to say beyond the obvious? Beating your child is bad. Yes. Yes, it is. But how can you take that message one step further. This message is championing the voices that speak up against these atrocities. Yes, the visual creator has depicted an overwhelming, and sadly too common, cycle among abusers and the abused, but the creator is also yelling at the top of his/her lungs that someone needs to not only stop, but break the cycle. We need to be the champions for those who cannot fight for themselves, for those who cannot speak up against what occurs at home, for those who know no other way.
So as my students choose these powerful images to analyze, I remind them to take the work beyond the confines of their classroom, and to implement the message in their every day lives. I remind them to be the voice for all those caught in a cycle of violence, and in doing so, I remind myself, and I remind you, to do the same. Let’s break the cycle. Let’s be their champions.