Teenage dating violence and school laws
The decision by shelters to provide programming to youths at their middle and high schools can be seen as “obvious”—that is where the youths are most of the time.
Schools are an ideal place to present dating violence prevention education because they reach a diverse and universal audience (Harned, 2002; Weisz & Black, 2009), offer consistent attendance and interaction with large numbers of youths (Jaffe, Suderman, Reitzel, & Killip, 1992), and provide resources such as space, transportation, staff assistance, and connections to parents and school personnel.Massachusetts, for example, requires school districts to implement policies making it clear that TDV will not be tolerated and to develop guidelines for addressing alleged incidents of TDV (NCSL, 2014).Seven states (Arizona, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia) have urged or allowed their educators to provide TDV programming in the schools.As part of their mission to end domestic violence, shelters often engage in TDV prevention efforts in schools with the goal of addressing relationship violence early (Hawley, Black, Hoefer, & Barnett, 2016; Weisz & Black, 2009). (2016) found that about one-third of shelters reported providing prevention programming to over half of the middle schools in their communities; the majority of shelters reported that they provided prevention programming to over half of the high schools in their communities.
Although some TDV prevention programming occurs in the faith community and at community centers (Wolfe et al., 2003), most prevention programming occurs in high schools, and to a lesser degree in middle schools (Weisz & Black, 2009).
Advocacy groups (including Break the Cycle, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Moms and Dads for Education to Stop Teen Dating Abuse) are also involved in trying to prevent TDV through changing policies.