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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: May 16, 2018 11:14 AM
From: Representative Tina M. Davis
To: All House members
Subject: Teen Dating Violence and Sexual Harassment Education
 
In the near future, I plan to introduce a new bill that expands upon my House Bill 567 of 2017 (which would mandate dating violence education for students) to mandate sexual harassment education as well.

As such, this new bill would mandate teen dating violence and sexual harassment education and peer support training. While Act 104 of 2010 provided for optional teen dating violence education in high school classrooms throughout this Commonwealth, this bill would go further by making such educational programs mandatory in our schools as a means of protecting the youth of our state, along with requiring sexual harassment education for students. This bill would also extend teen dating violence and sexual harassment education to middle school students. In addition, my legislation would require school districts to develop a specific dating violence and sexual harassment policy that includes a statement of district-wide intolerance of dating violence and sexual harassment. Further, this bill requires the training of district faculty and administration in the basic principles of dating violence and sexual harassment, as well as the warning signs of possible dating violence and sexual harassment in teenagers. This legislation will also ensure that friends and peers receive training in how to appropriately respond if they witness acts of dating violence or sexual harassment.

According to the United States Department of Justice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Liz Claiborne, Inc., women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence. Teen girls face relationship violence three times more than adult women. In fact, one in five high school girls report being physically or sexually hurt by a dating partner, and one in three teens experience some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships. Shockingly, many teens think such behavior is normal, and the majority of parents of these teenagers are unaware of the abuse.

In addition, sexual harassment remains an ongoing concern among teenage students in our high schools. A 2011 American Association of University Women report revealed that sexual harassment is widespread in middle and high schools, with 40 to 50 percent of students experiencing some form of sexual harassment in a single school year, and with more than 80 percent of students reporting such an experience at least once over the course of their school career. Moreover, a 2008 report by the Institution of Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan found that sexual harassment within schools has been associated with a variety of negative outcomes among its victims, including absenteeism, decreased quality of school performance, loss of friends, truancy, and internalizing and externalizing psychological symptoms.

Please join me in helping to better educate our youth and protect them from dating violence and sexual harassment.