In April 2021, a Texas Senate panel approved a teen dating violence education plan for Texas schools. The Senate Education Committee approved the bill unanimously.
According to the announcement by the Texas Senate, students will learn to recognize the signs of teen dating violence and abuse. In addition, they will learn how to report the abuse and seek help. The new education plan will be part of their health curriculum.
The bill directs the state board of education to develop the curriculum for Texas public school students. It covers what to do if they or someone they know is a victim of domestic violence or dating violence. The bill is named for a 16-year-old Grand Prairie high school student named Christine Blubaugh. Christine was killed in 2000 by her then-boyfriend.
The bill also requires students to receive education and age-appropriate instruction about preventing family violence and child abuse. The information would be taught once in middle school and twice in high school. In addition, the curriculum would include information about the statistics of dating violence and how to spot the warning signs of dating abuse and violence.
As part of the bill, schools would be required to develop an anti-dating violence policy. The policy would affirm a zero-tolerance for dating violence. It would provide procedures for reporting dating violence.
After receiving a unanimous vote in the Education Committee, the bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
Teen Dating Violence is More Common Than Many People Realize
Teen dating violence is a serious and growing problem in the United States. Approximately 1 in 14 boys and 1 in 11 girls in high school have experienced physical dating violence in the past year. Sexual dating violence occurred in the past year for about 1 in 8 girls and 1 in 26 boys in high school.
Teen dating violence can take many forms. It can occur in person, online, or by cell phone.
The violence may include one or more of the following:
- Physical violence
- Psychological aggression
- Sexual violence
Many teenagers are not equipped with the skills or maturity to handle teen dating violence. They do not know what to do or how to report the violence. They may be ashamed, frightened, or insecure.
Sadly, teen violence has a significant negative impact on a person’s life, including their future relationships, education, relationships, and self-esteem.
How Can We Stop Teen Dating Violence?
Federal, state, and local educational programs are one way to stop teen dating violence. However, the progress is slow on all levels.
The CDC has created a teen dating violence prevention model designed to stop teen dating violence before it begins. The Dating Matters program includes prevention strategies and focuses on developing healthy relationship skills for children ages 11 to 14. The goal is to educate and empower youth before they begin dating.
Several components to the Dating Matters program involve the community, parents, individuals, and schools.
The components of the Dating Matters program include:
- Parent programs
- Youth programs
- Training for educators
- Capacity Assessment and Planning Tool
- Communications program
- Interactive guide to informing policy
- Guide to using indicator data
The CDC created a Dating Matters Toolkit to give groups and organizations everything they need to begin the program in their community. Early education and intervention can be one of the best ways to stop teen dating violence.
However, the education needs to continue into high school to reinforce the lessons learned in middle school. In addition, high school students need to have resources they can utilize if they or someone they know are victims of teen dating violence.
Parents are also essential in the process of stopping teen violence. Parents need to learn and recognize the signs of teen dating violence. They need to maintain an open dialogue with their teenager, learn how to talk about teen dating violence, and discuss setting healthy boundaries.
A teenager may be resistant to discuss their dating life or romantic encounters. However, it is crucial that parents discuss teen violence with their children. The only way to stop teen dating violence is through continued efforts on all fronts (home, school, community, etc.).