Florida Dating Violence Bill

Last Friday evening, on the last day of the 2010 Legislative Session, the Florida Senate passed a bill that will require all schools in Florida to provide dating violence prevention education to all students in grades 7 through 12.

Break the Cycle worked with the bill’s sponsor, Representative Mia Jones of Jacksonville, to ensure that the legislation provides guidance to schools implementing prevention education and dating violence policies, and to ensure that the bill adequately addresses the needs of students who are victims of dating violence.

As a result of Break the Cycle’s feedback, students will receive information about community resources available to teen victims of dating violence as a part of the dating violence prevention curriculum. Additionally, school districts must develop a policy to address dating violence on campus. Break the Cycle thanks Representative Jones and the sixteen cosponsors of the legislation for their hard work on and support of the legislation.

The final vote in the Senate included 34 members who supported the bill. Only four Senators were opposed to the legislation. Earlier this month, House Bill 467 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 108 to one.

The health education curriculum must include a teen dating violence component that discusses:

  • The definition of dating violence and abuse;
  • Warning signs of dating violence and abusive behavior;
  • Characteristics of healthy relationships;
  • Measures to prevent and stop dating violence and abuse; and
  • Community resources available to victims of dating violence and abuse.

In addition to requiring that schools educate students, the bill also requires each school district to adopt and implement a dating violence and abuse policy that

  • Prohibits dating violence and abuse;
  • Provides procedures for schools to respond to incidents of dating violence, including accommodations for students experiencing dating violence; and
  • Defines dating violence and provides for a teen dating abuse component as part of the health curriculum.

The State Department of Education must also create a model policy that can be used by local school boards. Finally, the bill requires school districts to train teachers, staff, and school administrators so that they can fully implement the law.

The bill is currently awaiting signature by Governor Charlie Crist. If the governor signs the legislation, the law will go into effect on July 1, 2010.

Are you interested in helping your state pass this type of legislation? You can help us support dating violence prevention education by joining Break the Cycle’s HOPE. As a member of HOPE, you’ll have access to resources that will help you reach out to your legislators and other policymakers in your community. You can also send a message to your legislators letting them know you won’t stand for domestic violence by going to www.enddatingviolence.com to sign Mary Kay’s petition and demonstrate your support for Break the Cycle’s teen dating violence curriculum. Join HOPE now, sign Mary Kay’s petition, and become an advocate in the movement to end domestic and dating violence!

-Published May 5th, 2010.