Study: Schools Not Prepared to Address Teen Dating Violence
One in three U.S. teens will experience teen dating violence, according to data from the Domestic Violence Awareness Project.
A new study from Ball State University indicates that while the majority of high school principals say they have assisted victims of teen dating violence, most do not have protocol in place for how to do so.
In the study, 750 high school principals in the United States were sent a questionnaire regarding teen dating violence with a 54 percent response rate.
The responses showed that 57 percent of principals have assisted a survivor of teen dating violence in the past two years but 76 percent say they do not have a protocol in place to respond to an incident of teen dating violence. Sixty-five percent say their school’s violence prevention policy does not specifically address teen dating violence.
“The lack of formal protocol is a key element in assisting student survivors of teen dating violence,” says Jagdish Khubchandani, a community health education professor in Ball State’s College of Health and author of the study.
Another 27 percent say they have disciplined perpetrators, although 62 percent say training has not been provided to personnel in their schools in the last two years. Another 68 percent say they have never been formally trained and educated on issues related to teen dating violence.
“Some principals who wanted to help victims of dating violence reported personnel shortage in their schools and that faculty and staff don’t have good training and skills,” says Khubchandani.
The study showed principals who received formal training perceived dating violence as a serious problem and were significantly more likely to assist survivors.
Khubchandani also says the survey revealed some attitudes among principals that minimized the topic of teen dating violence or didn’t view it as a problem in their school, according to the Indy Star.
Of the 27 percent who say they have disciplined teen dating violence perpetrators, the most common methods of discipline included referral to a school counselor (93 percent), calling the parents (85 percent) or referral to legal authorities and police (74 percent).
Some students say they, too, receive very little education about teen dating violence in high school, reports Fox 59.
“I can definitely attest to the fact that we receive little to no education about teen dating violence within high school. Teen dating violence is uncomfortable. It’s something awkward to talk about and because of that it’s something unknown,” says high school student and Domestic Violence Youth Network (DVN) member Maya Voelkel.
Khubchandani hopes this study will bring about change.
“We would try to make a school-based protocol and a checklist of things to do and also provide educational material. And we’re also sharing the results with national agencies like the National Association of School Nurses and hope that we can take some positive steps forward.”
Khubchandani conducted similar studies with school nurses and counselors and found those results were in line with what he found with principals.
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