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INFORMATIONAL LETTER: 88
POLICY CODE:  IHAM

TO:                  Superintendents of Schools and Principals        

FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

RE:                   National Teen Dating Violence and Prevention Week

DATE:             January 24, 2006         

 

A Message from Governor John E. Baldacci, Attorney General G. Steven Rowe, Public Safety Commissioner Michael Cantara and Education Commissioner Susan Gendron

To Superintendents and Principals:

We are writing to let you know that February 6th through 10th has been designated by the United States Senate as National Teen Dating Violence and Prevention Week. As we all know, teen dating violence is a serious issue that affects many students in our schools.  Statistics collected on the issue of teen dating abuse are compelling. 

Twenty percent of women who are victims of homicide are between the ages of 15 and 24 years old.  

Our culture supports many myths about teens and dating relationships. One way to combat these myths is to actively engage young people in a discussion about what healthy relationships are and what they are not.  While we realize that you will not have a lot of time to prepare extensive programming for the week of February 6th -10th, middle and high schools are encouraged to seize this opportunity to initiate discussions about teen dating violence and prevention during that week.  Obviously this important topic can and should be addressed at other times throughout the school year.

When planning a teen dating and prevention event in your school, it would be helpful to involve health educators, school health coordinators, school nurses, wellness teams, and guidance departments, Civil Rights Teams, Peer Helpers and Resource Officers.  In addition, the sexual assault centers and the domestic violence projects in Maine have school-based educators who can provide resources, advocacy and assistance. 

A simple way to raise awareness about the issue of teen dating violence in your school is to make an announcement about the week and provide information to students about resources available to them.  We encourage you to post information about community resources on your school bulletin boards and list the abusive relationship “red flags” and the steps to building a healthy relationship.

We also encourage you to contact the Sexual Assault Centers and the Domestic Violence Projects that serve your region.   The Centers and projects throughout Maine provide free K-12 educational programs tailored to the individual needs of schools. They cover many age-appropriate topics in the mandated ten content areas in comprehensive school health education and align with the health education standards in the Maine Learning Results.  Some of the topics include:  teen dating violence, healthy relationships, date and acquaintance rape, sexual harassment, and drugs that facilitate rape. For more information, or to find out what center or project is located in your area, please visit www.mecasa.org or call 1-800-871-7741 (TTY: 1-888-458-5599) or www.mcedv.org or call 941-1194. 

Finally, while this one week is being designated to highlight the issue of teen dating violence, please remember that resources are available to your school year-round and that you can provide educational information and support to your student body in many different ways.  We hope this information will be helpful to you in starting or continuing a discussion about teen dating violence in your school.