Thursday, on a gorgeous overlook at Rock Island's Schwiebert Park, a group of ordinary men will gather, reflect and vow to step forward.|
They are asking men everywhere to step with them.
"Flowers on the River'' is the signature event of the Quad-Cities' Elephant Club, a group of local men dedicated to eliminating domestic abuse. It is planned in conjunction with the Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Council.
Many will speak at Thursday's gathering, and one man will drop a rose into the Mississippi River, symbolizing the local victims of domestic abuse. After a reading of the names of area women killed by domestic violence, Elephant Club members will do their best to share their message.
They will encourage men to serve as positive role models for men, women and children within our community. Their belief is that the problem of violence against women cannot be solved alone, and that it is not a problem of women, it is a problem of men.
"Many believe equality between sexes has come a long way,'' said David VanLandegen, a memberof the Elephant Club and Rock Island County Adult Probation Services director."Equality on many fronts has made great inroads, but there are many things men can do to make it better. It starts with respect and being accountable.''
Mr. VanLandegen, holding an Elephant Club information brochure, read some haunting statistics regarding domestic violence:
-- Seventy-three percent of all family violence victims are female.
-- Twenty-five percent of all emergency room visits made by women are a result of domestic assault.
-- In the United States, three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.
-- Approximately one in five female high-school students reports being physically/and or sexually abused by a dating partner.
-- Children who are exposed to domestic violence are more likely to exhibit behavioral and physical health problems, including depression, anxiety and violence toward peers. They are also more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, and commit sexual assault crimes.
Mr. VanLandegen says the Elephant Club's message is that being a silent bystander to violence against women and children cannot and will not be tolerated.
"We must be proactive in the support of women and children,'' he said, noting the club uses the elephant as its symbol to signify the matriarch of the family. "We must work to be positive role models for men within communities. Our societal responsibility as men must be through love, care and respect for women and children. It is a simple message, but one that must be followed. 'Flowers on The River' is a reflective event, but men must step forward every day.''
Please, take that step.
Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moline, IL Details
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