Domestic violence and sexual assault are two very prevalent issues in East Texas, which, to some extent, still remain topics that are swept under the rug. Society as a whole creates a climate for our culture on what is acceptable and what is not and calls it social norms. When society remains silent on certain issues, the overwhelming message usually received is that it’s not important enough to talk about or that it isn’t an issue at all. Our silence is our complicity, because a choice to remain silent is a choice with consequences. One East Texas Teen is making it known that he will not be complicit in the perpetration of violence, and he’s challenging other local East Texans to join him.
Jaired Maddox, an 18 year old student athlete at All Saints High School in Tyler, is challenging local area coaches and athletes to step up and say, “No More” to domestic violence and sexual assault. Jaired has collaborated with the East Texas Crisis Center to bring the nationally-known awareness campaign, “No More” to East Texas. “No More” (www.nomore.org) is a unifying symbol and campaign to raise public awareness, and to engage bystanders around ending domestic violence and sexual assault.
Jaired wants to use his voice to be an ally, “being a male and speaking out about ending domestic violence brings much more light on the subject. By speaking out, I give the victims – especially women- a strong secondary voice. With the secondary voice, more males will realize this is not simply a ‘women’s issue’ that would be better off handled by women, but rather a social issue: one that impacts our society’s households, social norms, and many more important areas of our lives.”
He also sees the importance of using his position to help address the issue, “athletes are held as models, especially among young men and women. For example, if an athlete does something good for true community, most teens will follow. The same goes for the negative. Seeing many athletes convicted of some form of domestic violence and soon after continuing their careers as if nothing happened, breeds the idea that their behavior is both normal and acceptable. It is up to the coaches to teach the men and women my age what a healthy relationship is.”
Maddox has a compassionate heart and wants to share with those who have been affected by abuse. He said, “I may not know who you are or relate to you in any possible way, but I do know your circumstances, and that there are many others in your situation. I’m in a great position to speak out about your problems, and I will gladly be the voice that relays the problems you are facing every day.”
It isn’t every day we get to witness male youth leadership in the way of activism and support, but Jaired Maddox is stepping up to the challenge to end violence in a huge fashion, and I believe it is up to us in the East Texas community to show him that he is not alone in his efforts. You can be part of the solution by raising awareness at Dance Away Domestic Violence on Saturday, October 23rd, downtown on the square in Tyler from 9am-3pm.
For more information on how you can be a sponsor, purchase a t-shirt, or show support and join Jaired and the East Texas Crisis
Center in saying, “No More” to domestic violence and sexual assault, visit www.etcc.org or call (903)509-2526.
You may follow Jaired on www.facebook.com/nomoretx.