Christine Stuart photo

A group of lawmakers and teenagers have teamed up to support legislation that would ask schools across the state to incorporate a lesson on dating violence in their health curriculum.

Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, said the issue of teen dating violence is often overlooked by parents and educators, but it is an issue which has resonated very strongly with young people.

“We need more voices to join the chorus that is alerting parents, teens, educators, and policymakers about this serious public health issue,” Luke Lomanto, a student at Stamford High School said at a Capitol press conference Monday.

Christine Stuart photo

Robin Read, president and CEO of the National Foundation for Women Legislators, said her organization just became aware of the issue this past November. She said it was one of those issues that was always there, but never had a name.

She said it isn’t bullying and it isn’t domestic violence, “but this is a very real epidemic,” which often leads to domestic violence in the future. 

According to the state Department of Public Health, 13 percent of teens surveyed in Connecticut say they have experienced physical dating violence, ranking the state 9th in the nation for teen dating violence.  And according to a survey commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc., data revealed one in five teens between the ages of 13 and 14 years old say their friends are victims of dating violence.

The proposed bill will not require school districts to spend any money on the curriculum, which will be provided for free.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said ultimately the message depends on young people getting it and talking to other young people about it.

“They can teach other and they can teach us,” Blumenthal said.

Click here to read a copy of the proposed bill which received a public hearing Monday in front of the Education Committee.