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Haven’t rates of violence among youth gone down?

Blog post

According to the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College, serious violent crimes on school campuses reported by law enforcement such as rape and aggravated assault have declined since peaking in the mid-1990s.[1] This is very positive trend. Yet, a decline in serious violent crimes reported by law enforcement does not mean that schools are safe for everyone.

Dating abuse continues to be a largely overlooked problem on school campuses. 

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Approximately 1 in 4 adolescents report verbal, emotional, physical or sexual dating violence each year; and,
  • Approximately 1 in 10  students nationwide report being physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past 12 months.[2]

Since 1998, over 20 teen lives have been lost to dating abuse homicides and suicides in California. Countless more incidents have been brought to the attention of advocates, counselors, and administrators. These incidents illustrate that dating abuse threatens the safety of students and staff, contributes to truancy and drop-out, and compromises the school climate.

Research also confirms that dating abuse compromises student safety and the school climate and that school policies are key to preventing dating abuse on campus.

California schools have “an obligation to protect pupils from mistreatment from other children” and to protect the right of every student “to attend campuses which are safe, secure, and peaceful.”[3]

While California has taken steps to strengthen school responses to peer-to-peer bullying and violence, the Education Code has a serious gap when it comes to dating abuse: it does not define dating abuse, require schools to prohibit it, or ensure that schools have dating abuse policies in place.

AB 1880 will address these gaps in the law to stop dating abuse and keep all students safe at California schools.

[1] JA Butts. (2012.) School Crime Has Declined Sharply Since the 1990s. New York, New York: John Jay College Research and Evaluation Center.

[2] US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008.) Understanding Teen Dating Violence: Fact Sheet. Atlanta, GA: Author.

[3] California Constitution, Article 1, § 28(c).