Although a majority of high-school principals (57 percent) had assisted a teen dating-violence victim in the past two years, more than two-thirds of respondents (68 percent) said they lacked formal training, and a majority (62 percent) reported that teachers and staff in their schools hadn’t been recently trained, either.Less than a third (30 percent) posted information on teen dating violence that was easily available and accessible to students—posted in hallways or the cafeteria, for example—and just 35 percent specifically addressed dating abuse in their school’s violence-prevention policies.
Victims of dating abuse are also more likely to experience depression and anxiety, and to consider suicide, than their non-abused peers.All of this negatively affects academic achievement.“That way we can have trust in them [and] come to them if we’re in that situation.”Lindsay Stawick, who directs the Domestic Violence Network’s youth programming, said most inquiries for dating-violence-prevention training come from teachers—at De Leon’s high school, for its part, it was a social worker.Stawick said she’s never received a request from a principal to provide training to their students or faculty—a reality she interprets as a hindrance to real progress on the issue.“My goal in schools and with young people is to change the culture that leads to violence,” Stawick said.As of July 2014, at least 22 states had passed laws that “allow, urge or require school boards to develop or include curriculum on teen dating violence.”Still, school leaders are not dependent on state mandates to act.
Nikkia Rowe, the principal of Renaissance Academy High School in West Baltimore, teaches a dating-abuse-prevention curriculum to ninth-graders.
She’s also a student leader with the “No More Club,” which seeks to end the silence on dating abuse.
De Leon, who has seen her peers being physically and emotionally abusive to one another, now recognizes the red flags—and she wants more support for victims from the adults in her school building.“I think we have to start with the principals at the schools, because they’re the leaders,” she said.
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Only 36 percent of principals included in the study believed that students have a major role in assisting survivors.