Bill calls for domestic violence resources for students

Bill calls for domestic violence resources for students

(Calif.) High schools would be required to print the telephone number for a domestic violence hotline on the back of student I.D. cards under a bill being heard Wednesday before the Senate Education Committee.

Sen. Susan Rubio, D-West Covina, author of SB 316, said that it’s vital to ensure that young people have the tools to know what a healthy relationship looks like–whether romantic or friendships.

She noted that as a public school teacher for 17 years, she has seen how students find themselves being pushed into inappropriate or unsafe behavior by friendships that are not healthy. And as a domestic violence survivor, she said she understands how it feels to be “isolated, embarrassed and confused about what should be acceptable behavior from a partner.”

“We all have an image of what a victim might look like,” Rubio wrote in an op-ed this week. “But victims—men, women and young people—are everywhere.

“Let’s focus on bringing awareness to teen dating violence and showing our children what a healthy relationship is,” she wrote. “Let’s end the cycle of abuse before it even begins.”

One in four adolescents report having been verbally, emotionally or physically abused while dating, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A national survey conducted in 2017 found that 8 percent of high school students reported physical violence, and 7 percent reported that they experienced sexual violence from a dating partner at some point in the 12 months before the survey. Meanwhile, about 26 percent of females and close to 15 percent of males reported first experiencing some form of violence by that partner before age 18, according to the CDC.

Exposure to that kind of trauma has been shown to have negative short- and long-term impacts on one’s health.

A landmark 1998 study by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente found that experiences including physical and emotional abuse or domestic violence are linked to stress-related health illness decades later—such as heart disease, obesity and premature death.

Further studies indicate that exposure to adverse childhood experiences including abuse can change brain development and the hormonal and immune systems and, in some cases, actually alter the DNA of an individual.

Legislators in California have taken some steps in recent years to reduce instances of teen dating violence.

In 2017, for instance, former-Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill requiring the state sex education curriculum to include a thorough discussion of domestic violence and the telltale signs of abusive relationships in grades 7 through 12.

Studies show that, similar to adults, many teens do not report such abuse to authorities and may not even tell friends and family.

However, by providing easy access to the contact information for domestic abuse hotlines, more students in need of support or resources may reach out for help.

“No one should feel as if they need to do this alone,” Rubio wrote. “They should know where they can turn for help.” more