By Susan Abram Staff Writer, LA Daily News – from the Contra Costa Times | http://bit.ly/oDjTCp
10/09/2011 10:40:10 PM PDT - Less than two weeks after a student allegedly stabbed his ex-girlfriend to death on a high school campus in South Gate, the Los Angeles Unified board is set to consider expanding teen violence programs districtwide.
The proposal was introduced in August, but is receiving new attention with the arrest of Abraham Lopez, 18, on suspicion of murdering Cindi Santana, 17, after a lunchtime argument at Southeast High School.
Lopez faces up to life in prison with the possibility of parole if tried and convicted.
Santana's slaying on Sept. 30 sparked calls from parents demanding that school officials tighten security and explain how such an event could occur.
It also cast a spotlight on a startling statistic: One in three adolescent girls nationwide falls victim to physical, emotional, verbal or sexting abuse from a dating partner, according to the nonprofit organization Peace Over Violence.
That's why there is a need to raise more awareness among parents and school employees, said board member Steve Zimmer, adding that his resolution was not introduced in response to Santana's slaying.
"It's very specifically drafted and crafted and spreads the very good work that's being done in some schools districtwide," Zimmer said.
The resolution calls for district Superintendent John Deasy to designate a prevention coordinator to help students, teachers and others recognize teen dating violence.
At least one person on each high school campus would be designated to spread that message, and campuses would support teen-led groups.
If passed, it would become the broadest such policy of its kind statewide.
Funding to enforce the policy won't be in place when the board votes on it, but Zimmer said the issue should be viewed as a priority, and he said community and local foundations will be asked to step up.
Peace over Violence - which describes itself as a multicultural, feminist, community-based volunteer group that works to eliminate violence against women and children - would partner with the LAUSD.
In surveys, the group has found that:
1 in 10 high school students have been hit, slapped, or deliberately hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
1 in 3 teens say they are sent text messages 10 to 30 times an hour by a partner inquiring where they are, what they're doing or who they're with.
"Students can't work and perform when they are at risk of violence," said Emily Austin, policy director for Peace Over Violence. "What we've heard from our youth is whenever they bring it up with faculty and staff, it's not taken seriously because they don't know what to do."
Fourteen states - but not California - mandate such programs, Austin said. Oakland has a program but there are no funds to enforce the policy.
Such programs are found sporadically throughout LAUSD, and some were simply eliminated due to state budget cuts.
Haven Hills, the organization that works to break the cycle of domestic violence, helped form teen-led programs in local high schools. But a $200,000 domestic violence grant through the state's Department of Public Health was eliminated under then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the teen programs were cut in 2007.
"We've been scrambling to bring back the teen program," said Executive Director Sara Berdine. "We've been pushing for the schools to do more on campus."
Zimmer said he knows the program, which is supported by board members Nury Martinez and Bennett Kayser, won't prevent all abuse. But he hopes the board will pass it.
"Violence toward one affects literally the entire school community," Zimmer said. "It's my hope there would be a different level of awareness on this issue. I think realizing that level across the district will have that preventative effect."
●●smf’s 2¢: It’s going to take more than my two cents to pay for this, but what does the LAUSD have going on that’s more important than the safety of children? Test scores? The superintendent’s performance bonus? Value-added assessments? Graduation rate or drop out statistics? Mr. Zimmer says the District must prioritize this – and he’s right. The Board of Education must declare that this is the first priority – not relying on bake-sale-mentality contributions from communities or foundations - but line item number one of the LAUSD budget.
following is the LAUSD Board Resolution and a copy of the underling research and suggested policy
Board Member Resolutions for Action
from the agenda of the Oct 4 2011 LAUSD Board Meeting
POSTPONED TO OCT. 11, 2011 REGULAR BOARD MEETING
8. Mr. Zimmer, Ms. Martinez and Mr. Kayser – Resolution to Promote Healthy Relationships and Prevent Teen Dating Violence at Los Angeles Unified School District (Noticed August 30, 2011)
Postponed from September 13, 2011 Regular Board Meeting
Whereas, Teenage dating violence is a serious and growing problem throughout Los Angeles, California and the nation;
Whereas, Approximately 1 in 3 adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner; a figure that far exceeds victimization rates for other types of violence affecting youth;
Whereas, Nationwide, 1 in 10 high school students (9.9 percent) has been hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend;
Whereas, More than 1 in 4 teenagers have been in a relationship where a partner is verbally abusive;
Whereas, Twenty percent of teen girls exposed to physical dating violence did not attend school because the teen girls felt unsafe either at school, or on the way to or from school, on one or more occasions in a 30-day period;
Whereas, Teens who abuse their dating partner have high rates of violence against other teens;
Whereas, Violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications for victims by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, suicide, and adult revictimization;
Whereas, Digital abuse and ‘‘sexting’’ is becoming a new frontier for teen dating abuse;
Whereas, 1 in 3 teens say they are text messaged 10 to 30 times an hour by a partner inquiring where they are, what they’re doing, or who they’re with;
Whereas, 68 percent of teens say boyfriends and girlfriends sharing private or embarrassing pictures or videos on cell phones and computers is a serious problem;
Whereas, 71% of teens regard boyfriends and girlfriends spreading rumors about them on cell phones and social networking sites as a serious problem;
Whereas, Primary prevention programs are a key part of addressing teen dating violence and many successful community examples include education, community outreach, and social marketing campaigns that also understand the cultural appropriateness of programs;
Whereas, The Los Angeles Unified School District has demonstrated a commitment to teen dating violence prevention with over twenty years of successful partnerships with teen dating violence prevention community organizations to provide education and dating violence prevention programs to students and staff around teen dating violence;
Whereas, The District is dedicated to improving school campus climates and school policies around responding to and preventing teen dating violence;
Whereas, The District seeks to ensure that every school has a staff that is prepared to recognize, respond to, and intervene effectively in incidents and reports of violence, and to prevent abusive behaviors by engaging staff, parents and students in promoting healthy teen relationships and to direct follow up when incidents occur;
Whereas, The District is committed to providing a specific, focused, and integrated system of supports to build a school climate that encourages healthy relationships and addresses all forms of adolescent dating abuse (verbal, emotional, sexual, and physical that can be carried out through technological abuse); and
Whereas, The District supports administrators, faculty and staff, parents, students and community members in reinforcing good conduct, self-discipline, good citizenship and academic success in order to promote a positive school culture;
now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District supports promoting healthy relationships and teen dating violence prevention;
Resolved further, That if funds are made available, the Board directs the Superintendent to designate one person as Prevention Coordinator to implement action steps and collaborate with families and community stakeholders to educate students and school personnel on violence prevention, including adolescence dating abuse;
Resolved further, That each school designates at least one person (“Prevention Liaison”) to assist the Prevention Coordinator in the dissemination of prevention methods, intervention, and curricula addressing adolescent dating abuse and other issues that affect school culture;
Resolved further, That schools provide prevention education for students on topics including, but not limited to, promoting healthy relationships, defining abusive and unhealthy relationships, responsible use of technology, youth-led awareness and prevention activities, and early interventions in response to incidents of dating abuse;
Resolved further, That schools provide ongoing professional development on how to promote healthy teen relationships, prevent adolescent dating abuse, and respond to incidents of adolescent dating abuse. Professional development will include but is not limited to strategies to foster healthy relationships, understanding the potential life-long health effects of adolescent dating abuse, health and behavioral indicators of adolescent dating violence, promoting healthy teen relationships, preventing and responding to students who engage in abusive behavior; identification, assessment, and appropriate referral of students who experience abuse; Resolved further, That schools provide engagement opportunities for parents and caregivers to learn how to help their children build healthy relationships and connect parents and caregivers to resources;
Resolved further, That school administrators or their designee will respond to incidents or complaints of dating abuse;
Resolved further, That the appointed Prevention Liaison implements tools to monitor and assess adolescent dating abuse prevention activities, incidents and responses, and reviews these tools at least every three years; and; be it finally Resolved, That schools provide annual written notice to parents, caregivers and students of the school policy and practices to promote healthy relationships and prevent teen dating violence.