Battling domestic violence makes for a community effort

Principal Betty White
Principal Betty White
Rep. John Mizuno
Rep. John Mizuno

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Years before the shooting death of one of its students in August, Sacred Hearts Academy had already integrated the subject of domestic violence into its curriculum.

"All we have to do is read the newspapers and we see the relevance in the girls' lives," said Principal Betty White.

"We start with grade seven and we repeat every year."

13-year-old Saundra Cass and her mother, Kristine, were murdered in their home by a man who then took his own life. Instead of sheltering its students from the devastating news, the school brought in counselors and talked openly about it.

"You're reading and studying it sort of in a theoretical framework. Then when it actually happens, it's something very different," said White. "During this crisis, it was just as important for us to work with our teachers as it was with the girls."

Victims' advocates say combating domestic violence takes a community-wide effort.

"The things that make Hawaii so special -- humility, respect, humbleness -- also is our Achilles heel. What happens is that because we're so humble, many times when there's a family issue, again, it becomes a private issue," said Mizuno.

Representative John Mizuno is among those who take part in silent marches following domestic violence-related deaths. The goal of these marches is to raise awareness in the community and make sure lives are not lost in vain.

"It's heart-wrenching and painful, and yet you continue with the marches because you know, you just know, that you're going to touch another life out there. You can save another life," he said.

The principal of Sacred Hearts agrees that facing the difficult topic head-on is key.

"Most definitely, I think it's very important," said White.

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