Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Our goal is to prevent dating abuse on middle school and high school campuses in California.

"Our schools need to be safe havens for all students, and it is critical that we provide school leaders with tools and resources to help them become stronger partners in reducing teen dating violence and other forms of gender-based violence... Like bullying, teen dating violence has far-reaching consequences for the health and life outcomes of victims. We need to do everything we can to make sure all students are safe." - US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

There were over 20 teen dating abuse fatalities in California between 2009-2012.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in four adolescents report verbal, emotional, physical or sexual dating abuse each year. Dating abuse affects both male and female students, and a substantial number of dating abuse incidents occur on California’s middle school and high school campuses. 

When schools don't take a stand on dating abuse, it continues and escalates, threatening the safety of students and staff, distracting students from learning, and compromising the school climate. It's time to ensure that all students can be safe at California schools!

The federal government will now model what schools accross California should also do - put policies in place to address abuse in intimate relationships

On April 18, 2012, the Obama Administration announced new efforts to help address and prevent domestic violence in the federal workplace. President Obama today signed a memorandum that will require federal agencies to develop policies to address the effects of domestic violence and provide assistance to employees who are experiencing domestic violence.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New study finds teen dating violence behaviors and risk factors common among 7th-grade students

A new study of 1,430 7th-grade students released today reveals that many 7th-graders are dating and experiencing physical, psychological and electronic dating violence. More than one in three (37%) students surveyed report being a victim of psychological dating violence and nearly one in six (15%) report being a victim of physical dating violence.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lawrence's story: "Adopting and implementing dating abuse policies is beneficial and practical for school districts, even in a tough fiscal environment"

As an administrator in the area of student and family support services, Lawrence Shweky has learned about teen dating abuse directly from young people, as well as from many school staff that have expressed concerns about these issues. 

Mika's story

Mika Sasaki

Mika is a dating abuse survivor and an advocate and educator for healthy relationships and dating abuse prevention.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

When schools ignore dating abuse, they fail victims and offenders, by allowing violent behavior to escalate

An Executive Director at a Northern California domestic violence (DV) organization shared this story that shows that when schools ignore dating abuse, they fail both victims and offenders: 

In 2009-2010 fiscal year, our organization saw a 45% increase in youth and young adults seeking services. A total of 112 young people came in for services, including crisis intervention, counseling, and assistance with filing for restraining orders.

One of these young people was a 17-year-old high school senior. In the first few months of her relationship, her boyfriend controlled what she wore, kept track of her by cell phone, sent her threatening text messages, and discouraged her from spending time with her friends. She came in to the organization for counseling when after a few months, his controlling behavior escalated to physical violence.

Monday, March 19, 2012

School Policies Are Necessary to Prevent Dating Abuse

Research shows that dating abuse compromises student safety and academic achievement and that school policies are key to preventing abuse on campus.

That is why over 25 states have adopted laws to address dating abuse in schools. Read why California should do the same:

Morgan's story: "I knew that it was not acceptable for a victim of abuse on campus to be told, 'There’s nothing we can do.'"

After being abused by her boyfriend, Morgan Berschauer reached out to her high school when his ongoing harassment after their break-up continued to affect her school life. The school told her there was nothing they could do. Since then she’s been organizing other students and volunteering with Laura’s House. Morgan was crowned Miss Laguna Hills Teen 2012 by the City of Laguna Hills for work to spread education about dating abuse. Her school is beginning to recognize the problem of dating abuse, and they’ve invited Laura’s House to give workshops to students. But this is just a start.

See Morgan on: 

Marissa's story: “No other teen should reach out for help at school, only to be rejected by adults who are unaware of the dangers of dating abuse, and unable or unwilling to help.”

The abuse that Marissa Presley endured by a much older boyfriend at the age of 14 resulted in truancy, difficulty focusing at school, and extensive health and mental health consequences. When she confided to a well-meaning school counselor, the disastrous advice she received was, “Hang in there.” Now Marissa manages dating abuse prevention programs for Laura’s House in Orange County. Sadly, she has heard stories similar to her own from far too many teens who have been abused in their dating relationships.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sarah's story: "It still shocks me that even though students saw the assault and my teacher saw the aftermath, when I actively sought help from my school I was turned away."

Sarah Van Zanten is a dating abuse survivor whose story shows us why schools need to have dating abuse policies. Sarah was abused by her boyfriend at her school in Palo Alto. After her school failed to respond to a physical assault on campus, her boyfriend's violence continued and escalated. Eventually it became unsafe for Sarah to continue to attend her high school.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dating abuse and truancy: when students don't feel safe at school

An advocate who works at a domestic violence service provider in Central California shared this story that shows the connection between dating abuse and truancy:

A female high school student sought counseling from our agency after her ex-boyfriend yelled at her and ripped her jacket off of her during lunch after she broke up with him. She stopped going to school after this incident because she was afraid of him. 

Liz's story: Cindi’s tragic death should be a wake up call for all schools

Liz Gomez works as the Site Coordinator for Woodcraft Rangers at South East High School in South Gate, California. Since South East High student Cindi Santana was murdered in September 2011, she has been supporting the leadership of youth who are working to ensure that all students, “Live Violence Free.”

Last year, when Cindi Santana was stabbed in the quad area of South East High School on September 30th, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, our community was devastated. Many students witnessed the attack. When Cindi died, students were heartbroken to have lost a peer and a friend. It struck fear among the students, parents and the whole community. It added stress to the students. Parents were scared of sending the students to school.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Resources for school districts

Many resources exist to support school districts in crafting and enacting policies and procedures to address dating abuse and support healthy teen relationships.

Doesn’t California Education Code already address dating abuse?

“Teen relationship violence” is mentioned in Sections 32260-32270 in reference to a 1985 program, and in Section 32228 in reference to a 1999 program, both of which are no longer funded. 

California Education Code does not define dating abuse, require schools to prohibit dating abuse, or require schools to have policies and procedures in place to address it.

Can schools enforce protection orders?

While schools have a duty to comply with civil and criminal orders of protection, some school administrators may wonder on a practical level how school staff can enforce protection orders.

How pervasive and harmful is dating abuse?

Dating abuse is one of the most overlooked forms of violence.   

What are the distinct dynamics of dating abuse?

Because dating abuse occurs in a relationship characterized by romantic or intimate feelings, there are dynamics that are distinct from other forms of violence.

School-based dating abuse prevention laws by State

Many states have passed legislation to address dating abuse in schools. Here is a summary of some of the significant laws by state, in alphabetical order.

California, once a leader in dating abuse prevention legislation, is now begin to lag behind.

What is dating abuse?

“Teen dating violence [is] far too prevalent and prevents far too many students from being able to focus on their education.”
Kevin Jennings, the Assistant Deputy Secretary,
US Department of Education[1]