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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: May 12, 2021 02:46 PM
From: Representative Jessica Benham and Rep. Brian Sims
To: All House members
Subject: Dating Violence Education for Middle and High School Students
Middle and high school students are at the greatest risk of dating violence and sexual assault. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), in Pennsylvania, 418,000 victims of sexual violence were under the age of 18. NISVS concludes that sexual violence starts early, with one in three female victims experiencing rape between the ages of 11 and 17 and one in four male victims experiencing rape before the age of 10. Schools are responsible for maintaining a safe and healthy environment that fosters growth and learning, yet sexual assault and dating abuse can wholly disrupt a student’s ability to focus. Without education and strategies in place to teach students on dating violence and sexual violence, the students who have experienced it will continue to suffer.
Higher education leaders participating in Pennsylvania’s It’s On Us (IOU) forums resoundingly said that “educating students before they arrive to our campuses” is a top priority for addressing campus sexual violence. Schools need to have a more proactive role in preventing teen dating violence and sexual violence through consistent policies and requirements. Act 110 of 2020 fortunately provided for expulsion guidelines if a student assaults another while on school grounds but current Pennsylvania law does not require education on these topics for students in grades 9-12.
As part of the governor’s ongoing IOU initiative, our legislation would provide preventative education by requiring the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to use the materials and resources available to them to assist schools with educating 7-12 grade students on how to identify and prevent dating violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and stalking.
Please join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation to equip young people with the skills needed to identify and prevent an assault before it happens.

Introduced as HB1490