August 29, 2011

Crapo Legislation Increases Education About Teen Dating Violence

Promotes healthy relationships for teens

Washington, DC - With incidents of dating violence in the news and on the increase, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is introducing federal legislation to boost education and awareness about teen dating violence in Idaho schools.  Crapo, along with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), has introduced the "SAFE Teen Act."  U.S. Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Dave Reichert (R-WA) have also introduced similar legislation in the House.

About 72 percent of 8th and 9th graders report dating.  Of that number, 1 in 4 adolescents reports emotional, physical or sexual violence each year; and 1 in 10 adolescents reports being a victim of physical dating violence.  Over 40 percent of young people who report they are victims of dating violence say that the incidents occurred in a school building or on school grounds.

The "Stop Abuse for Every Teen Act" or "SAFE Teen Act" would:

  • Authorize schools to use existing grant funding for teen dating violence prevention
  • Highlight teen dating violence prevention as part of the comprehensive, community prevention program, Safe Schools, Healthy Students, that already funds prevention activities
  • Support better teen dating violence data to understand the scope of the problem as well as having a means of measuring the impact of prevention programs and policies
  • Support promising practices to further replicate, refine and test prevention models

 The legislation does not include any mandates and is budget neutral without any additional funding.

"Our children's safety and well-being is always our top priority, and this bill takes a proactive step in protecting our children from dangerous relationships-and their lifelong consequences," said Senator Crapo.  "The SAFE Teen Act enables schools to tackle dating violence with awareness and prevention initiatives that will continue the steady progress that we have already made in combating teen dating violence within our schools and communities."

At least 15 states have passed teen dating violence laws that urge or require school boards to develop curriculum on teen dating violence, most without additional funding or guidance. The federal legislation attempts to correct this problem by allowing schools to incorporate teen dating violence prevention into existing school safety programs. Schools are also encouraged to train school personnel on the issue and incorporate response mechanisms into school policies.

The legislation is supported by Futures Without Violence, as well as a coalition of domestic violence and education advocacy organizations including the National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, Love is Not Abuse Coalition, Jewish Women International, Girl Scouts of the USA, and RAINN.