January 25, 2006

DID YOU KNOW?

Guest opinion submitted by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

According to national research, thereâ??s a very real chance that about one-third of teenage girls in high school or middle school have been hit, punched or kicked by a boyfriend. Itâ??s highly likely that this violence didnâ??t just come out of the blue, and that verbal and emotional abuse preceded these attacks. If youâ??re a parent, are you aware that this happens regularly? Did you know that boys are also victims of dating violence? Did you know that teen dating violence has ended in death, even here in Idaho? When my daughters were in middle school age, I was one of the over 80 percent of parents who didnâ??t know this was happening. More people are talking about the crime of domestic violence in Idaho and providing victims and perpetrators assistance and counseling. But, all too often, the signs of a future controlled by domestic violence emerge early in the form of dating violence. Increased awareness will bring opportunities for better lives and choices.In November 2004, the American Bar Association Steering Committee on the Unmet Legal Needs of Children gathered teens to participate in a nationwide summit in Washington, D.C. about teen dating violence and take action to stop itâ??starting with teens themselves. The result of this initiative was the idea and subsequent creation of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention toolkits which have been sent to high schools in every state and territory, including fifteen Idaho high schools. In support of this national teen dating violence awareness effort, I sponsored a Senate Resolution declaring February 6 â?? 10, 2006, National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week. A similar resolution was sponsored in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-California). The ABA has partnered with over 30 national law enforcement, family advocacy and child advocacy organizations as well as the U.S. Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Education. The effort has gained the attention of local and national news media, some of whom will be on hand on February 6, when we kick off the weekâ??s activities at a news conference at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in Washington, D.C. Iâ??m especially honored to be able to highlight Idahoâ??s particular contribution to this national effort to raise awareness of the crime of teen dating violence. In November 2005, the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, St. Lukeâ??s Regional Medical Center and others sponsored a teen dating violence summit in Boise. For the summit, students at Eagle High School created a series of five public service announcements (PSA) about teen dating violence. I had the privilege of airing one on â??Capitol Watch,â?? my live monthly cable program, in November. We will be airing the same PSA at the news conference in Washington, D.C. One of the Eagle High School students involved with the production of the PSA will be speaking about his involvement with the Idaho effort to raise awareness of teen dating violence. Itâ??s time to bring the crime of children hurting children out into the open. Itâ??s time to expose the lies behind teen dating violence to the light of the law and the truth of healthy relationships. This deadly cycle must be stoppedâ??for the sake of our kids, grandkids and our communities. WORD COUNT: 542