A recent study by Ball State professor Jagdish Khubchandani concluded that few schools have protocols for dealing with teen dating violence, which is a problem.
In the wake of the Me Too movement, many allegations are coming to light concerning sexual impropriety of prominent men. We think it likely that, in many cases, an attitude of disrespect toward women stems from attitudes learned in one’s formative years.
Young people tend to model the kind of behavior they see while growing up. Those who come from a dysfunctional home life may be lacking in positive role models for healthy romantic relationships. In a Sept. 10 article, Liberty Christian School Superintendent Jay McCurry cited these reasons for wanting to take a proactive approach to the issue.
McCurry also said that he believes the issue is adequately addressed in health class. Pendleton Heights principal Connie Rickert said she believes dating violence is covered under her school’s policies on bullying and harassment.
This, we fear, is not enough.
Dating and relationship violence adds a whole other layer of emotional manipulation that is often not present in standard bullying.
In the case of relationship violence, the victim often experiences not only fear and shame but also feelings of love, attachment and loyalty for his or her abuser. In some cases, the victim may not even recognize the abuse for what it is, particularly if the victim experiences unhealthy relationships at home.
This type of abuse is difficult enough for an adult to deal with, and we can only imagine how helpless the situation would feel for a teenager who feels he or she has no one to whom to turn.
Dating and relationship violence should be incorporated into our schools’ curriculums as part of their charge to provide a safe and positive learning environment for our children.