Preventing Teen Dating Violence through Education
Approximately, 1 in 5 teenage girls has experienced physical and/or sexual violence in a dating relationship. Females ages 16-24 are the group most-highly victimized by abuse. Prevention, therefore, is key; there must be an effort to reach Louisiana youth. Louisiana Appleseed’s focus has thus been to encourage schools to teach about relationship abuse, as well as healthy relationships. Louisiana Appleseed hosted a roundtable discussion of stakeholders and formed a task force to address prevention issues. It achieved milestones in 2010 and 2014 when the Governor signed into law bills that mandate education regarding dating violence prevention in public schools. (Act 321 – 2010 and Act 506 – 2014)
La. R.S. 17:81(T) requires that Louisiana public schools include in their health education curriculum (grades 7-12) information about relationship abuse, including warning signs and how to seek help. We are working with education administrators to emphasize their duty to provide instruction to students. The schools are also required to provide instruction to all school employees having contact with students about the definition of dating violence, dating violence warning signs, and the proper ways to address suspected or reported dating violence involving students.
Project Partners (past and present): Kean Miller LLP, Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Louisiana Department of Education, Jeannine Sullivan (Louisiana Appleseed Legal Fellow), Prevention Task Force Members, Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools.
For a copy of the law, please click here.
T.(1) Each school year the governing authority of each public school shall provide to students in grades seven through twelve enrolled in Health Education age and grade appropriate classroom instruction relative to dating violence.
(2) Such instruction shall include but need not be limited to providing students with the following information:
(a) The definition of “dating violence”, which is a pattern of behavior where one person threatens to use, or actually uses, physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse to control his or her dating partner.
(b) Dating violence warning signs.
(c) Characteristics of healthy relationships.
(3) The governing authority of each public school enrolling students in grades seven through twelve shall:
(a) At the beginning of each school year, provide instruction to all school employees having contact with students in such grades relative to the definition of dating violence, dating violence warning signs, and how to properly address suspected or reported dating violence involving students, including but not limited to counseling and notification of law enforcement, and provide information relative to dating violence to the parents of students in such grades.
(b) Include in student codes of conduct the definition of dating violence, dating violence warning signs, and instructions for reporting or seeking help relative to dating violence.
(c) Collect data relative to the number of incidents of dating violence reported to school employees and the actions taken by school employees to assist victims of dating violence.
(4)(a) In the spring of each school year, each local superintendent shall make an oral report at a meeting of the school governing authority that shall include but need not be limited to the compliance of each school with the requirements of this Section, aggregate data relative to dating violence, and any recommendations for reducing dating violence among students.
(b) For the purposes of this Paragraph, for a charter school, the “local superintendent” shall mean the chief executive officer of the school or other employee holding an equivalent position.
CLICK HERE FOR ACT 321 (2010)
CLICK HERE FOR ACT 506 (2014)