Youth present first draft of teen dating violence policy to protect IPS students

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A local student just took a major step in getting a domestic violence policy implemented in all IPS schools. She went before the board Thursday night to present the first draft of the proposal.

"We can accomplish this by becoming the first school district to implement a teen dating abuse prevention and response policy," said Maria De Leon, Domestic Violence Network Youth Advocate.

Maria has been a youth advocate for the past three years. A recent Crispus Attucks graduate, she was determined to finish what she started by getting IPS to adopt a teen dating violence policy.

"To be educated on what a healthy and an unhealthy relationship is. What domestic violence is in general. And what the difference between physical and emotional abuse is," Maria said.

Nationally 1 in 3 teens experience teen dating violence. And the problem is apparent in Indiana.

"Indiana ranks third out of 30 states for sexual dating violence for teens," said Lindsay Stawick, DVN program director.

Some of the policy highlights include a teen dating abuse advocate in every IPS school, a clear reporting policy and training for educators. A recent Ball State study looked at principals nationwide and found 76 percent of the school principals didn't have a protocol in their schools to respond to an incident of teen dating violence.

"It would also mean that IPS is taking concrete steps to create a culture where victims and survivors are supported and believe and people who behave unhealthy or abusively are held accountable," Stawick said.

The board didn’t vote on the policy. They’ll take a month to review the draft and it will be brought back before the board for a vote at a future meeting.

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