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Sioux City, IA, June 20, 2006– Members of the Siouxland Men's Coalition spoke out about domestic violence, a topic that has long been considered a "women's issue," and announced a campaign to end violence Thursday at City Hall.

The Siouxland Men's Coalition in partnership with the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention, launched the four-year, research-based public education violence prevention campaign in Sioux City this week in conjunction with Father's Day.

The campaign will include print, radio, TV and billboard advertising, as well as public events and community mobilizing. The purpose of the campaign is to increase the number of adults in Sioux City who are talking to their children about domestic violence.

"We're really excited about it," Cindy Waitt, president of the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention, said. "Our hope is that we increase the number of adults that talk to kids. Today we're focusing on fathers and sons because it's Father's Day, but there's a component that will really apply to all youth, girls as well."

Research conducted by the Waitt Institute over the past few years indicates that nearly half of the people in Siouxland have been touched by domestic violence.

A number of community leaders spoke on behalf of the Siouxland Men's Coalition.

"Violence is a huge issue within our culture," Bob Sheehan, president of the Boys and Girls Home and Family Services, said. "There are some studies that would say it would be a pandemic if we measured it as we measure disease in this country."

The Sioux City Police Department reports there were 586 reported incidents of domestic violence last year. There have been 261 reported incidents of domestic violence so far this year.

Violence doesn't necessarily have to happen to someone directly in order for them to be affected by it.

"It can be observed. It can be heard," Sheehan said. "It can affect us in many ways and it does affect many children."

Several Sanford Center employees and volunteers attended the press conference Thursday to take a stand against domestic violence.

George Boykin, director of the Sanford Center, said the men standing behind him impact the lives of 2,500 families. They work with young boys and fathers on a daily basis trying to resolve issues of violence.

"They're having a very, very important impact on this community," he said. "There have been no other programs like this anywhere in Sioux City or the state of Iowa where we would have such an impact in delivering this kind of services and eliminating violence in families and helping bring those families back together in a traditional way that should exist in our community and across this country."

Steve Hansen, a former state senator and director of the Sioux City Public Museum, pointed to recent incidents in Le Mars and Anthon, Iowa, to illustrate the presence of domestic violence in the area.

"Frankly I'm not surprised," he said. "Everyday there are dramas that are carried out that just aren't taken to that last step when someone is killed. Whenever I hear one of those stories, it always takes a little piece of my heart, but I don't ask, 'Why does it happen?' What I ask myself is, 'When is it going to end and how are we going to end it?'

"That's what this group is about."

Dolly Butz may be contacted at (712) 293-4275 or

Article reprinted from the Sioux City Journal