INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - It's a problem many teenagers face, teen dating violence. But if they speak up to an adult at school a new study shows those adults including principals, nurses, and counselors are not prepared to respond.
"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," said high school student and Domestic Violence Youth Network member, Maya Voelkel.
A new study from a Ball State University community health education professor looked at principals nationwide and found 76% of the school principals didn't have a protocol in their schools to respond to an incident of teen dating violence.
57% of them helped a teen dating violence survivor, 27% of principals disciplined perpetrators. Jagdish Khubchandani wants to use this study to 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 said.
The Domestic Violence Network's Youth Network is on the front lines. Their director goes into local classrooms teaching students mainly in IPS schools about healthy relationships.
"But it would be great to get in with the social workers, the counselors to be able to train them on how to recognize and respond because I have to leave and if disclosures happen I want them to be equipped with the tools and knowledge to be able to help," Lindsay Stawick said.
The study also found the majority of school principals could not answer four out of nine knowledge questions related to teen dating violence.
Professor Khubchandani also conducted a similar study with school nurses and counselors and the results were in line with what he found with principals.
We reached out to several local school districts to learn more about their policies or procedures but did not hear back.