According to a survey co-authored by a Ball State professor, high schools are struggling to help victims of teen dating violence. At Ball State, there are several programs provided to those affected by sex offenses including the University Police Department and the Counseling Center. Elliott DeRose, DN
Survey shows high schools’ struggle to help teen dating violence victims
February is known for candy hearts, roses and Cupid, but with romance can come a darker side that can get lost in the celebration of love.
The month of February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, an issue one survey found some high schools to be ill-equipped for.
The survey, co-authored by Jagdish Khubchandani, a health science professor at Ball State, showed that high school teachers and nurses haven’t been trained for the challenge of tackling the issue head-on.
“The teachers were in their forties and fifties and when they went to school they were trained in science, math, good health and foods — the same old stuff,” Khubchandani said. “Now the new challenges are drugs, homicide, suicide and bullying.”
The survey took a sample of school principals nationwide, and asked them a series of questions on how the school handles teen dating violence. It found 43 percent of principals said their nurses were not trained for dating violence.
Many of the participants were upset over the issue, asking why they should care about teen dating violence, Khubchandani said.
Out of a total of 732 samples sent out to the schools, only 396 responded, according to the survey. The majority of the responses said that the school had no protocol for teen dating violence, Khubchandani said.
According to the survey, 368 respondents said they would refer a victim to the school counselor if teen dating violence was reported. Only 107 respondents said they would help the victim obtain protective order when reported.
The immediate outcome of teen dating violence is failure to graduate on time, Khubchandani said. After that, he said victims fall into drug and alcohol use.
“We’ve done the studies that show if someone was abused as a child, the chances that they’ll be abused as an adult are much higher,” Khubchandani said.
Khubchandani said if victims are abused as teenagers and do not seek help or speak out, they begin to accept it as a norm. He said that the abusers can also continue their behavior if they started as teenagers.
Ball State offers several programs to aid with dating violence and other relationship issues. Step In. Speak Up. (SISU) is an organization on campus that specializes in helping victims of teen dating violence, stalking and sexual assault.
Ryan Johnson, SISU’s public relations officer, said that the organization holds bi-weekly meetings to talk about sexual assault and promote bystander awareness.
SISU offers students an application on their phone, where they can instantly report cases of sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. The app allows students to connect with resources both on and off campus.
“I think there’s that stigma of feeling pressured not to talk about it and not to be able to,” said Johnson. “And I also think it’s institutional, within the school system as well, where the school system doesn’t really talk about it either.”