In Pennsylvania, nearly ten percent of high school students have already experienced physical abuse from a dating partner. On average, half of young victims are abused on school campuses. Despite this shocking prevalence of abuse and its proven negative impact on healthy development and education, Pennsylvania law does not require schools to address dating abuse.
Mary Kay and its independent sales force, representatives from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and Break the Cycle are teaming up to ensure Pennsylvania youth get the help they need to build healthy relationships.
We are gathering to support Senate Bill 1116, which requires all middle and high schools in Pennsylvania to educate youth about teen dating violence. The bill also directs schools to implement policies that address dating violence on campus and train staff to respond sensitively and effectively to incidents of abuse.
We are hopeful that such laws can reduce the rates of abuse by giving students the tools they need to prevent, diagnose and escape abusive relationships.
Upon introducing the bill, State Senator Sean Logan said, "Teen dating violence is occurring in high schools across the country and both males and females can be victims. It is essential that students are educated on healthy relationships, warning signs and resources prior to getting involved in an abusive relationship." The bill has bipartisan support with eight cosponsors, six Democrats and two Republicans.
If the legislation passes, Pennsylvania would become the sixth state to require dating violence prevention education. Currently, only Texas, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Ohio and Florida have laws requiring schools to teach students about dating violence.
Break the Cycle urges other state governments to follow Pennsylvania’s newly set example and enact similar legislation.