Governor’s Address 9/22/12
Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.
Today in Maine, only 10 town academies exist, with Erskine Academy being the second largest with an enrollment of 700 students. This week, I had the opportunity to meet students from Erskine Academy in South China and I would like to share with you a part of that experience.
As I looked around the room, I saw the faces of young men and women destined to become the next generation of leaders and mentors. These students will have the power to shape the values in their communities and what is socially acceptable among peers.
That is why it was important for me to share with these students the serious problem of domestic violence in Maine.
Prior to speaking with all of the students, a few gave me a tour of the school. They told me about their efforts to reduce bullying. Erskine students have created groups that address bullying and domestic violence and how they can stop both from happening in their community. It was truly inspirational.
My message was simple: if we are to end domestic violence, we must first understand what it is and then have the strength to stand up and speak up against it. Furthermore, young men in our society must have the courage to man up and recognize their role in stopping all forms of abuse.
While the majority of domestic violence victims are women, this is not only a women’s issue, and women cannot be expected to be solely responsible for stopping the abuse. Men must be the solution to eliminating this heinous behavior. Men are the aggressors in 80% of domestic violence cases.
I shared with them my personal story and how it has had an impact on my life.
The scars of domestic abuse never go away, but I can tell you from experience that talking about it does help heal the pain.
Domestic violence is not borne from some mental illness, or parental abuse. It has to do with power and control, especially toward women and children.
Domestic violence makes us all uncomfortable. Most of feel like what goes on within other families is not our business, or sometimes we do not want to believe a neighbor is capable of being abusive.
As I listened to students questions, I was saddened by what I was hearing. It was clear, these teens knew people affected by domestic abuse and they wanted to do something about it.
I shared the fact that one of their best resources is right at the front of the classroom – a teacher.
This brings me back to the importance of mentors in our communities.
Teachers are shaping the lives of our future leaders and it is not an easy task.
The compassion displayed to me this week at Erskine Academy between students, their teachers, and administrators was truly remarkable. I thank our educators who dedicate their lives to teaching and mentoring our students, and most importantly putting their needs first.