Ohio Project Working to Educate Teens about Dating Violence

Article excerpt

IN 1992, Ohio teenager Tina Croucher was shot and killed by an abusive ex-boyfriend in her family's home. Now, almost two decades later, her story is inspiring a new generation of Ohio youth to take a stand against dating violence.

Launched in 2010, the Tina Project is working to educate students and school faculty in Ohio about youth dating violence, how to prevent it and how to help those in abusive relationships.

The project, which is the collaboration of more than a dozen organizations that assist victims of violence, was created to help schools comply with a 2009 state law known as the Tina Croucher Act. The law requires Ohio school districts to incorporate dating violence into their student harassment, bullying or intimidation policies; include dating violence prevention education in the health curriculum for seventh-through 12th-graders; and provide dating violence prevention training for certain school personnel.

"We are so thrilled to be able to get this message out to our young people," Elsa Croucher, Tina's mother and executive director of Citizens Against Domestic Violence, told The Nation's Health. "We knew nothing about teen dating violence when this happened with our daughter and we want people to know what we know. We don't want another family to go through what we went through."

In Ohio, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that nearly 10 percent of Ohio high school students reported dating violence. A 2009 survey of high school students in Ohio's Cuyahoga County that was conducted by researchers at Case Western Reserve University found that more than 11 percent of students were hit, slapped or physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend, with the prevalence of dating violence higher among black and Hispanic students than among white students.

Currently, the work of the Tina Project is focused within 11 counties in northeast Ohio, though the goal is to spread the message statewide, said Tim Boehnlein, associate director of the Domestic Violence Center of Greater Cleveland and a co-founder of the Tina Project. …