A bipartisan group of state legislators, including Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison), Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon), Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) and Representative John Spiros (R-Marshfield), is hoping to help Wisconsin join the growing list of more than 20 states that have implemented dating violence curricula in schools and move the state toward a more comprehensive approach to addressing and preventing teen dating violence. Advocates believe that the newly introduced bill will not only improve the health and safety of Wisconsin teens by breaking cycles of dangerous behavior that contribute to increased risk of drug abuse, truancy and suicide for current youth victims, but will also help to lower the risk of abuse occurring in future generations.
Teen dating violence, which is defined as a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner, is recognized as a widespread problem. One in three teens in the U.S. is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. This rate is higher than all other forms of youth violence. Over half of teens – 57 percent – know someone who has been physically, sexually or verbally abusive in a dating relationship.
LRB-5038 would require school boards to adopt policies addressing teen dating violence, including:
- Prohibiting teen dating violence at schools or school-related events and activities;
- Model, age-appropriate instruction about preventing and responding to teen dating violence for pupils in grades 7 through 12;
- Training and procedures for identifying, preventing, and responding to teen dating violence for school district employees, and identifying school district employees responsible for receiving teen dating violence incident reports.