Teen dating violence is an alarming issue that affects millions of young lives across the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 12 U.S. high school students who dated in the 12 months prior to a 2019 survey experienced physical or sexual dating violence. The rates were higher among female students and those who identified as LGBTQ+. In response to this pressing concern, Michigan has taken a significant step to raise awareness and prevent teen dating violence through a groundbreaking new law.
Senate Bill 66, signed into law by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on July 11, mandates that all public school districts, charter schools, and intermediate school districts in the state provide age-appropriate material about what constitutes sexual assault and harassment to students in grades six through twelve. The materials will be ready for implementation in schools across the state by June 1, 2024. The law’s impact will extend beyond awareness materials. Beginning with the 2024-25 school year, school systems will be encouraged to train all educators and staff who interact with students on how to respond to disclosures of sexual violence.
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One Macomb County organization, Turning Point, is already doing that. The organization supports survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking, and it is also working with several schools in Macomb County to teach these lessons of consent and sexual conduct to their students. One Detroit senior producer Bill Kubota takes viewers into the classroom at Dakota High School to see the training in action.
He talks with Patricia Davis, Prevention Educator at Turning Point, and Sara Dobbyn, senior program and education director at Turning Point, as well as Dakota High School Student Assistance Specialist Stephanie Lange about early prevention efforts and the long-lasting impact dating violence can have on teens as they age into adulthood. Plus, Kubota talks with three Dakota High School seniors — Nehemiah Campbell, Krystyna Kijewski and McKenzie Koehn — about the impact Turning Point’s course has had on them and the need for more teen dating violence awareness classes in their curriculum.
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Watch One Detroit Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. ET on Detroit Public TV on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.