Local Organizations Help Schools Adopt Dating Violence Policy - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/13/07-East Texas

Local Organizations Help Schools Adopt Dating Violence Policy

Taking on dating violence in school.  The state congress has approved a bill to require all Texas schools to adopt a dating violence policy starting this year.  In that bill, it includes a definition: The intentional use of physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse by a person to harm, threaten, intimidate, or control another person in a dating relationship.  The bill also mandates schools have awareness and education programs available for students and teachers.  Local organizations are now stepping up to make sure East Texas schools address dating violence the right way.

It's a number that surprises those who work with domestic abuse victims.  Seventy-five percent of students ages 16 to 24 have experienced dating violence, or know someone that has.  The Texas Council on Family Violence discovered that number last year after conducting an online survey.  As a result, the organization created its Know the Red Flags Campaign, and is now traveling around the state educating communities on the early signs of dating violence.

"A lot of people don't realize that the issue of domestic violence and dating violence is really a problem in our community, and it's high time that we give it the attention it needs by giving those resources out to people," said Texas Council on Family Violence Communications Liaison Havilah Tower-Perkins.  The TCFV says you may need to raise a red flag when a person makes their partner constantly question their actions, monitors the other person by screening calls, or e-mails, or when the person tells the other what to do.  Red flags also include excessive calling, or text messaging and embarrassing the other in public.

"What we tell people is it's really important to listen to your instincts," said Tower-Perkins.  "Even if everybody around you thinks this is the perfect partner, you know if something inside of you says something isn't right."  In East Texas, the TCFV is working with the local domestic violence organizations like the East Texas Crisis Center and Women's Center of East Texas.

"Unfortunately, in our center in Longview we see a lot of second generation, woman that come into the shelter after they have been in the shelter as children, and we have to start talking to people earlier, just to make sure they do know what the warning signs are and that they take these signs seriously," said Women's Center of East Texas Executive Director Shannon Trest.  With House Bill 121, these organizations say it will be much easier to get their message across.

"It gives us the tool that we need to address all parts of dating violence, and it does happen at a very early age," said East Texas Crisis Center Special Events Coordinator Carrie Brantley.  "As soon as dating begins."  With more education, the TCFV says it hopes to help bring that surprising number of 75 percent down.

You can learn more about The Red Flags Campaign.  Just go to our homepage and click on the Know More on 7 link.  There you will find Know the Red Flags.

Molly Reuter, Reporting. mreuter@kltv.com


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