July 11, 2012 — Most high school counselors report that their schools have not trained staff or established protocols for handling reports of dating violence among students, according to a study published online Monday in Pediatrics, HealthDay reports.
Prior research has found that 10% to 30% of teens have been physically harmed by a boyfriend or girlfriend. The study also expands upon previous findings that linked dating abuse to thoughts of suicide, weight gain, the spread of sexually transmitted infections, and other physical and mental health problems, according to the researchers.
Jagdish Khubchandani of Ball State University and colleagues sent questionnaires to 550 high school counselors to learn about their training and ability to deal with teen dating violence.
Although 61% of respondents said they had provided guidance in the past two years to a student who experienced dating violence, more than 81% said their school had no guidelines for responding to such reports and 90% said the staff had not received any training in the previous two years on how to handle teen dating violence.
The researchers also found that most schools called students' parents or reported abuse to the police, while a smaller number referred student victims to child protection services or a school nurse for medical or legal advice.
The findings led researchers to conclude that preventing dating abuse and helping victims are not priorities for U.S. high school schools. Khubchandani said the reasons schools do not have policies in place range from school administrators being reluctant to get involved in students' relationships to not considering dating abuse to be a serious issue (Reinberg, HealthDay, 7/9).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership