06.03.11

Whitehouse Chairs Hearing on Preventing Teen Violence

Panel Discusses Ways to Reduce Teen Dating Violence and Bullying

Providence, R.I. – With incidents of teen dating violence on the rise, and with new forms of web-based abuse becoming more common, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today brought together a panel of experts to discuss these issues and propose solutions. Whitehouse chaired a field hearing of his Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism entitled “Preventing Teen Violence: Strategies for Protecting Teens from Dating Violence and Bullying.”

“Too many of our teenagers in Rhode Island and across the country are becoming victims of physical and emotional abuse,” said Whitehouse.  “We need to better recognize the signs of teen violence and bullying and work together to improve the lives of our children.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 10% of students across the country have reported being physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year.  And a recent study by the National Education Association reported that more than 62% of school staff nationwide had witnessed at least two instances of bullying in the past month.

Witnesses at today’s hearing included Saunderstown resident Ann Burke whose daughter Lindsay was murdered by an ex-boyfriend in 2005.  Since then Burke has worked to raise awareness and prevent dating violence as the President and Founder of the Lindsay Ann Burke Memorial Fund.  “We know that prevention works,” said Burke. “Prevention research tells us we need to support education programs starting in middle school that do not simply talk about the warning signs of dating abuse but help initiate conversations about healthy relationships.”

The hearing also featured testimony from Deborah DeBare, Executive Director at the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Kate Reilly, Director of Start Strong Rhode Island at the Sojourner House, and Ruth Zakarin, Executive Director of the Katie Brown Educational Program.

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