New Law Addressing
Dating Violence in Schools:
What You Can Do
by Bronwyn Blake, Texas Advocacy Project
According to a statewide survey, 75 percent of 16 to 24 year-old Texans have either personally
experienced dating violence or know someone who has (1) . This statistic highlights the importance
of House Bill 121, which mandates that all school districts in Texas adopt and implement a
dating violence policy. Effective immediately, the new policies must include (1) a definition of
dating violence, (2) sections on safety planning, (3) enforcement of protective orders, (4)
school-based alternatives to protective orders, (5) training for teachers and administrators, (6)
counseling for affected students, and (7) awareness education for students and parents/guardians.
View text of the bill.
What does this mean for schools, and how can you as a Victim Services Advocate get involved?
The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) has added appropriate provisions into their
model Policy Manual Update 81. Once adopted, this will give school districts a bare bones
policy, but it will need to be supplemented with local regulations and programs. To help fulfill
this need, the Texas Dating Violence Prevention Team, a coalition of various non-profits and
government agencies, is encouraging schools to contact their local domestic violence shelter or
rape crisis center to see if they already have a dating violence program that can be adopted by the
schools. The Team has also compiled a manual entitled "How To Create a Teen Dating Violence
Prevention Program," culled from model programs in Boston, Rhode Island, New York,
California, and Austin. The document is available on the www.women-law.org website.
So what can you do as a Victim Services Advocate? TASB says that they "know districts are
looking for guidance on this issue." Your expertise could mean all the difference. Please reach
out to your local schools. Whether or not you are part of an existing dating violence program, you
can use the above document to aide school districts and community groups in the development of
a comprehensive dating violence program. Another way you can help is by educating teens on
this issue. As we gear up for the 3rd National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention
Week in February, the Texas Dating Violence Prevention Team has once again created a toolkit
containing posters, warning signs, fact sheets, suggestions for classroom activities, videos,
brochures and wallet cards for use in schools and communities to help them observe the Week.
(See past materials).
Toolkits will be available to schools, shelters, and individuals who want to educate teens and get
them excited about this issue. This fall, we are offering free trainings throughout the state on how
to use the toolkits. More information will be posted on the above link as we have it.
If you have questions about the Texas Team or their work, please contact Bronwyn Blake at the
Texas Advocacy Project, firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. "Know the Red Flags" a study by the Texas Council on Family Violence, 2006. Funded
by the Office of the Attorney General and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
Advice for Advocates:
Protecting Teen Victims
New Crime Victims' Compensation Application
Putting an End to Teen Dating Violence
Dating Violence in Schools: What You Can Do
Expect Respect: Taking an Ecological Approach to Prevention
Bexar County Family Justice Center
Pseudonym Form for Victims of Family Violence
Office on Violence Against Women
One Teen's Experience Escaping Abuse
Texas Teen Page
Helping Teen Victims of Crime
Tools for Helping Texas Teens in a Nutshell