Break the Cycle (www.breakthecycle.org ) the nation’s leading dating abuse prevention organization, recently released its 2010 State Law Report Cards: A National Survey of Teen Dating Violence Laws, which grade how well states protect minors from abusive relationships.
The 2010 Report Cards are expanded to include information about school-based response to dating abuse as well as accessibility of other related services for teens. Each state’s report card also includes specific policy recommendations to help guide on-the-ground efforts to improve these laws.
This year, Break the Cycle updated the grading system with assistance from researchers at the University of Minnesota. Among others, some of the criteria used in grading included: can minors receive protection orders; do dating relationships qualify under the law; and, do same sex couples have access to legal protections? Break the Cycle received pro bono support from independent law firm Latham and Watkins, LLP to compile the 2009 state law statutes.
Sample of Key Findings:
• New Hampshire (A) receives the highest score because it is the only state which allows minors of any age to petition for protection orders without parental involvement.
• Arizona (B) and the District of Columbia (A) improved their laws since last year’s report. Arizona now allows people to qualify for protection orders if they are in a dating relationship with their abuser. In DC, teens as young as 12 can now petition for protection orders without parental notification.
• Ohio receives an F in the 2010 Report, but Governor Ted Strickland recently signed into law a bill mandating violence prevention education in schools and clarifying the state’s restraining order statutes, allowing minors and people in dating relationships to legally protect themselves. Changes take effect later this year and will be reflected in the 2011 Report.
• Pennsylvania (D) is considering a bill mandating violence prevention education in schools. Though not a factor in the 2010 grades, this statute could work in their favor for the 2011 report.
• Kentucky (F) has pending legislation, House Bill 30, that would allow victims of abuse in dating relationships to access protection orders. If the bill passes, Kentucky’s grade could rise to a B, based on Break the Cycle’s current metrics.
2010 State Law Report Cards Grades
• Only six states and the District of Columbia (14%) receive A’s – CA, IL, NH, OK, RI and WA
• Fifteen states (29%) receive B’s – AK, AZ, DE, FL, IN, ME, MA, MN, MS, NJ, NM, NY, TN, VT and WV
• Sixteen states (31%) receive C’s – AR, CO, CT, HI, ID, IA, KS, LA, MD, MI, MT, NE, NV, NC, TX and WY
• Four states (8%) receive D’s – ND, PA, OR and WI
• Nine states (18%) receive F’s – AL, GA, KY, MO, OH, SC, SD, UT and VA
For more information and to download a complete copy of the 2010 Teen Dating Violence State Report Cards, please visit www.breakthecycle.org.