It’s not uncommon for parents to ask Thomas Boyd what they can do to keep their children safe from violence.
Mr. Boyd, whose 17-year-old stepdaughter, Shynerra Grant, was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend, tells them simply: Be involved. Walk with them, and talk with them.
“If you have somebody who’s in a relationship, be involved. Don’t overdominate. Understand,” he said. “Did I agree with everything going on? No. Could it have been different? Yes.”
Mr. Boyd, who completed his master’s thesis on teen dating violence after Shynerra’s death in 2005, will speak at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Mulford Library at the University of Toledo Health and Science Campus as part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
The event, “Give Hope a Hand: Turning Victims into Survivors,” runs from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Open to the public, the resource fair is aimed at people who at times are the first to come into contact with victims of crimes, said Lynn Carder, director of the Toledo-Lucas County Victim-Witness Assistance program, which works with victims as the offender’s criminal case winds its way through Common Pleas Court.
“We want to get information into the hands of victims as soon as possible,” she said. “Their case might not come to the judicial system right away for a variety of reasons, so by getting information into the hands of first-line responders — emergency room personnel, teachers, Block Watch captains, church leaders — victims are more likely to get the information they need.”
In 2004 — a year before her murder — Shynerra Grant had broken up with her boyfriend, Antonio Rogers, because she felt he was getting too serious. She went to the prom with another boy, and Rogers went to her mother’s house and assaulted Shynerra, breaking her jaw, Mr. Boyd said.
“After that, she told me, ‘Nobody’s ever going to put their hands on me again,’ and I said, ‘When a man puts his hands on a woman, that is always going to escalate to another level every time because he wants to make sure he’s in control,’ ” Mr. Boyd recalled.
At the time, juveniles like Shynerra could not get court-ordered protection orders.
The law applied only to victims and defendants who were married or living together — something that in the years that followed Shynerra’s murder, Mr. Boyd and Shynerra’s mother, Cheryl, worked to change.
In 2010, then-Gov. Ted Strickland signed “Shy-nerra’s Law,” which allows juvenile courts to issue and enforce protection orders that protect one minor from another. Mr. Boyd said he believes the law is making a difference, though it came too late for Shynerra.
She had just graduated from Start High School, where she was a cheerleader, and had landed a full scholarship to Wilberforce University. Her death, on Father’s Day, 2005, reverberates still.
“I have young nieces and nephews who are still angry because they loved her,” Mr. Boyd said. “It hurts them, and they’re scared about getting into a relationship. ... The pain never goes away, not really, because I think about my daughter every day.”
Barbara Jordan, Project Access program coordinator at the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center, said Mr. Boyd’s message is a powerful one.
“He talks about how [her murder] just rippled through his entire family,” she said. “It happened to his daughter, but it happened to a mother, a father. It happened to her friends.”
He also breaks the myth that domestic violence only happens to “those women.”
“People don’t realize it’s young girls going to good schools, good girls with a proper upbringing,” Ms. Jordan said.
Tuesday’s event is sponsored by the Toledo-Lucas County Victim-Witness Assistance program, Parents of Murdered Children, the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Equal Justice For All, Legal Aid of Western Ohio, and the YWCA.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.