The city of Winston-Salem, Wachovia and Sara Lee are participating in a campaign to prevent domestic violence by encouraging male employees to mentor younger men. The program is called Founding Fathers and was created by the Family Violence Prevention Fund, Mayor Allen Joines said while announcing the program yesterday at City Hall. The public is also encouraged to participate. Joines said he has long felt that domestic violence is a problem in Forsyth County. There were more than 4,000 domestic-violence cases reported in the county last year, he said. "This program targets men in a positive way," he said. Men will be encouraged to become "Founding Fathers" by signing a declaration that they will treat others with decency and respect and teach boys that violence does not equal strength.
The public is invited to attend an opening celebration for Founding Fathers from noon to 2 p.m. June 17 at Corpening Plaza in downtown Winston-Salem. Skip Pros-ser, the coach of the men's basketball team at Wake Forest University, will attend along with elected officials. In addition to signing the declaration, men who become Founding Fathers will be urged to mentor boys. Wachovia is providing money for the local Founding Fathers program. Among the officials at the news conference were District Attorney Tom Keith; Sheriff Bill Schatzman; Sylvia Oberle, the director of the Center for Community Safety; and Al Renna, the president of Family Services in Forsyth County.
Renna said he hopes that the program will encourage men to teach boys that violence against women is not acceptable. We learn lots of things in our families ... and unfortunately in some families we learn how to be violent," he said. "As we know, men can become tremendous models for their children." A study done for the Center for Community Safety, which is affiliated with Winston-Salem State University, showed that 80 percent of domestic-violence victims in Forsyth County court cases were female. Defendants had an average of eight prior charges and five prior convictions for offenses other than minor traffic violations. More than 70 percent of the defendants had at least one prior domestic-violence charge, the study showed. More information is available online at www.endabuse.org.