Study Finds School Nurses’ Unprepared to Respond to Dating Violence

Tue, 2013-05-14 13:05 � admin

A research study published by Ball State University and the University of Toledo this January in the Journal of School Health revealed new results on the perceptions and practices of school nurses regarding adolescent dating violence.

The study provides excellent insight into the role of school nurses in education and response.  A total of 404 school nurses across the country revealed that 88.1% of school nurses were not trained on issues relating to adolescent dating violence (dating abuse) in the past two years, though 90% of those surveyed agreed school nurses had a major role in assisting victims. Alarmingly, 79.5% of their schools did not have policies and procedures in place for responding to dating abuse, yet 55.3% of nurses reported assisting a victim of dating abuse in the past two years.

School nurses in the study reported being willing and interested in participating in the development of school policies and protocols, but many had not had the chance to do so. The responses reflect that training is necessary across all staff roles in schools, especially for school nurses who can be particularly valuable in encouraging disclosure of dating abuse.

However, it’s clear that the responsibility of prevention, intervention and response to dating abuse does not fall on a single staff position. Young people, if they choose to confide in an adult, will often turn to a school administrator they already trust – this may be a guidance counselor, soccer coach or algebra teacher. Because of this, it’s extremely important that all faculty and staff have a basic understanding of the dynamics and disclosure of dating abuse, and have easy access to the policies and procedures of their school.

If you are looking to develop dating abuse policies for your school, check out our resources at or request training for the staff at your school. Mandatory reporting of abuse is often a major policy challenge schools face, and educating staff on their responsibilities can be empowering to both staff and students. To learn more specifically about mandatory reporting, check out your state’s laws at

Everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship, and by providing schools with a basic understanding of dating abuse and how to talk about healthy relationships, we are one step closer to achieving this goal.