Education Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5315

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATION AND THE REDUCTION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

Vote Date:

3/19/2010

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

3/1/2010

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Rep. Fleischmann

Education Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill is in response to the recommendations of the Speaker's Task Force on domestic Violence.

The bill includes teen dating violence and domestic violence prevention education as a part of in-service training programs for certified teachers, administrators, and pupil personnel. It allows local and regional boards of education to include any paraprofessional or noncertified employee to participate in any in-service training program provided in the section.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Christopher G. Donovan, Speaker of the House, testified in support of the bill. He cited the results of the 2007 Connecticut School Health Survey, in which 13.4% of students reported being hit, slapped, or physically hurt intentionally by a dating partner, which is higher than the national average of 9.9%. Dating violence has long term physical, academic, social and emotional consequences for those who experience it. If these behaviors are not identified and addressed at an early age, they can persist into adulthood and carry serious consequences.

Representative Gerald Fox testified in support of the bill. He stated that dating violence cannot be treated as only an adult problem. The task force found that teen dating violence is disturbingly common. Students need to be aware of the damage that this type of behavior causes and education professionals need to be able to recognize the warning signs so that they can help. Unless the cycle of behavior is stopped, teen abusers will become adult abusers. Teenagers who are victims of domestic violence need to know that they are not alone. It is clear that by investing in education, we take another step towards reducing the incidents of domestic violence and protecting our young people.

Representative Mae Flexer testified in support of the bill. Rep. Flexer served as chair of the Speaker's Task Force. She stated that the bill is a small, but important first step towards preventing the cycle of domestic violence from continuing. Educating teachers and educational staff on the warning signs of teen dating violence is a critical component of breaking this disturbing trend.

Mark K. McQuillan, Commissioner of Education, testified in support of the bill.

The Office of the Victim Advocate supports the bill. They state that teen dating violence is often hidden because teenagers typically are inexperienced with dating relationships, want independence from their parents, are pressured by peers, and have misguided views of love and relationships. Just as we educate our children about health and exercise, it is important to teach them about healthy relationships and personal safety as well as what the red flags are in potentially dangerous relationships.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

CEA supports the bill with reservations. They stated that it is clear that the issue of teen dating and domestic violence is a social issue that needs to be addressed within the educational systems in CT. An overall evaluation of requirements under 10-220a must be considered to assure that priorities are established and can be realistically accomplished within a teacher and/or student year.

CABE supports the bill.

Catherine Zeiner, Executive Director of the Women's Center of Southeastern CT, testified in support of the bill. They know that experiences and behaviors exhibited in youth affect a lifetime of relationships and behaviors in adulthood. Victims of dating violence struggle in school, are often victims or perpetrators of domestic violence as adults, experience greater instances of mental illness and substance abuse, and often the abuse results in murder or suicide.

Kristen Bailey, from the Center for Youth Leadership in Norwalk, testified in support of the bill. Her group made the following recommendations to the task force;

1. District-wide written policies to identify, prevent and address teen dating violence on campus and in school

2. Training in teen violence for all school personnel, especially health teachers

3. Health classes about dating violence for students in grades 7- 12 based on a standard curriculum.

Linda Blozie from the CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence, testified in support of the bill. She believes that by educating teachers on teen dating violence, we can give them the tools and resources to intervene and respond when these situations occur. Dating violence needs to be stopped before it starts.

YNet, a group of over 40 student activists in the Greenwich area, testified in support of the bill. YNet has been working diligently to increase awareness of teen dating violence and emphasize the large scope of addressing the problem. They believe it is imperative that teen dating violence education occur in middle and high schools because it is during these years that teens are experimenting with dating and having their first romantic relationships. By including teen dating violence curriculum into legislation, students will learn how to develop healthy relationships in the comfortable and familiar setting of their school.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

CCM opposes the bill as another unfunded mandate.

Reported by: Dianne Slopak

Date: 3/26/2010