The Madison County Domestic Violence Task Force held its annual youth bookmark contest earlier this month in collaboration with Madisonville and North Zulch school districts.
Under the direction of Madison County Emergency Management Coordinator Shelly Butts, the purpose of the contest was to promote domestic violence awareness — particularly among young people.
The contest consisted of students at each school in their respective districts using their artistic skills and imagination to design bookmarks that express their perspectives on the dangers of domestic violence.
The bookmarks were judged for content and artistic creativity with winners receiving special certificates presented by Butts, MCISD and NZISD teachers and administrators as well as officers from both Madisonville Police Department and MCISD Police Department.
Taking place over the better part of 15 years, this year’s contest was another success with 333 participants across the two school districts. Butts said that it is extremely important to make youth aware of the dangers of domestic violence since they are very impressionable and may speak out when adults will not. In her opinion, that is one of the biggest advantages of a bookmark contest.
“On the bookmarks, we look to see if there is anything in the kids’ artwork that does not look quite right,” said Butts. “At that point, we get with school counselors to see what steps to take next.”
MPD Patrol Officer Brandy Reid, who assisted in presenting awards to the winners, echoed similar sentiments.
“There are a lot of young kids that have seen or experienced domestic violence firsthand,” said Reid. “The more we can teach them and increase their awareness the better.”
MCDVTF was assembled in the 2002 and has since been a consistently dedicated resource and advocate for domestic violence awareness in Madison County. In addition to the bookmark contest, MCDVTF often collaborates with other local advocacy groups on events throughout the year, including poetry contests, clothing drives and food drives.
“We do whatever we can to increase awareness and advocacy,” Butts said. “Domestic violence occurs among all races, ages, religions, and socioeconomic statuses. Sometimes, it takes someone else to speak out on behalf of the victims.”
According to data provided by MCDVTF, there were 78 cases of domestic violence reported to Madison County law enforcement in 2017 alone. Anyone experiencing the dangers of domestic violence, or aware of someone in such a situation, is encouraged to contact local law enforcement, or any local advocacy group, immediately.