May 10, 2012
Claudette Bird helps teens and students in abusive relationships
By Lailani Upham
TERS Home School Coordinator Claudette Bird is one of the newest D'VA for the CSKT Domestic Violence Program. However, she is one of the longest serving staff at the tribal school. She hopes to be "an open door" for students to come to if they are in a violent dating relationship, and point them in the right direction. (Lailani Upham photo)
PABLO — She’s a breath of fresh air in her airy sweet voice and her caring open heart.
Meet Claudette Bird, Two Eagle River School Home School Coordinator, one of the most recent “D’VA” Domestic Violence Program Advisory Committee members. In fact, she’s so new she said she hasn’t had a chance to make it to one of the meetings that are held every few months.
Bird, who has worked with the young people at TERS for the past 20 years, says she believes being in her position as a home and school liaison for the students gives her an edge in being an ear and guide to those students that may be experiencing any degree of domestic violence.
Over the years, she says she has overheard young ladies in “bad relationships” and hopes with her new position serving on the board she can gear them in the right direction and right resources.
Teens have a difficult time opening up and talking to adults about their relationships, especially when abuse could be going on, says Bird.
According to Healthwise, a national medical reference resource, teen-dating violence is just as serious as adult domestic violence. And it’s common. The research says that 2 in 10 teen girls say they have been physically or sexually abused by their dating partner; about 1 in 10 teen boys report abuse in dating relationships.
A Healthwise report stated that in adult domestic violence, women are more times the victims. However, in teen relationships both boys and girls report abuse about equally. Although it is equal, boys tend to start the violence more often and use greater force.
With Bird’s role as D’VA in the tribal school system she hopes that more students can come to her for help. Not only can she help within that circle but in surrounding circles within the community as a whole.
Bird has a heart of a mother with tender words, smiles and laughs that have kept students grounded at TERS for the past two decades. Bird’s husband, Rodney is also a teacher at TERS and they are an ideal “parent team” at the school as well. Students have reported time and time again that TERS is like “a home.”
As a high school and middle school staff member, Bird can bring a student perspective to the advisory committee to help build the program with new ideas and resources.
Dating violence crosses all ethnic, economic and social arenas. It is a pattern of controlling behaviors that one partner uses to get power over the other.
According to the National Domestic Hotline, these are the things to ask, if you are a teen and suspect abuse in your boyfriend or girlfriend.
“Does he or she blame his/her problems on other people; or blame you for making him/her treat you badly?”
“Do they try to make you use drugs or alcohol to coerce you or get you alone when you don’t want to be?”
“Try to control you by being bossy, not taking your opinion seriously or making all the decisions about who you see, what you wear, or what you do?”
The NDVH says that teens are extremely at risk for dating violence. Research shows that physical or sexual abuse is part of 1 in 3 high school relationships.
One high sign of abuse a teen can ask themselves, according to NDVH is: “Do I feel less confident about myself when I’m with him/her?” “Do I feel scared or worried about doing or saying the wrong thing?” And, “Do I find myself changing my behavior out of fear or to avoid a fight?”
Mrs. Bird would like students to feel free to talk to her in confidence about anything and hopes to guide them in the right direction while serving on her volunteer service as a D’VA in the upcoming years.