YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: School districts throughout New Jersey will have to make anti-dating violence part of the curriculum for their middle and high school students, under a bipartisan bill signed into law by Gov. Christopher Christie.
Sponsors called dating abuse a silent epidemic that affects more than 1.5 million students annually. The new law will require — rather than “allow” — school districts to teach youngsters about the subject.
“The ramifications of dating violence can have a profound effect on a teen well into adulthood,” said co-sponsor Joan Voss (D-Bergen). “It’s important that we empower our students to recognize the warning signs and understand that this is not normal or acceptable behavior.
“Hopefully this law will go a long way towards preventing any unnecessary tragedies.”
Under the new law, each school district will implement a policy developed by a special task force for grades 7 – 12 — but which must contain, at minimum:
* a statement that dating violence will not be tolerated;
* information on the warning signs of dating violence and community resources available to address it;
* dating violence reporting procedures;
* guidelines for responding to at-school incidents of dating violence; and
* discipline procedures specific to at-school incidents of dating violence.
A-2920 requires the state Department of Education to establish a task force to develop the policy and puts the onus on school districts to incorporate it into health education.
According to the National Teen Dating Violence Prevention Project (NTDVPP), one in three adolescent girls in the U.S. is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner — a figure far exceeding victimization rates for other types of violence affecting youth. Additionally, one-quarter of high school girls have been reported victims of physical or sexual abuse or date rape.
The study also showed that victims of dating violence and rape are greater suicide risks, that they are more likely than average teens to become pregnant or to contract an STD.