Academic journal article Pepperdine Policy Review

Working Paper: Domestic Violence Prevention Education for Middle School and High School Students in the State of California

Academic journal article Pepperdine Policy Review

Working Paper: Domestic Violence Prevention Education for Middle School and High School Students in the State of California

Article excerpt

Executive Summary

California has been a leader in policy across the globe, but still lags behind in responding to research that shows children ages 11-17 are most vulnerable to domestic violence. While California has some of the strongest models of domestic violence prevention education for college campuses, it has failed to institute comparable systems in K-12 public education. States like Virginia and Ohio now surpass California in strong prevention policies, which outline standards for content and mandate timelines for implementation. California should implement a policy that mandates base-level orientation on domestic violence, sets a requirement for Californias health framework that includes a section dedicated to domestic violence, and incorporates out-of-classroom awareness programming.


Through movements like Take Back the Night, the Clothesline Project, the #MeToo movement, and Its On Us, cultural attitudes and awareness surrounding domestic and sexual violence have shifted to support survivors. This societal shift, in combination with the traction gained from these movements, has catalyzed government actors and other stakeholders to take measures to prevent domestic and sexual violence. Many states, including California, have led the charge by making prevention an educational priority.

California has created strong prevention policies for college campuses, but these prevention policies often come too late for many students. By the time students enter college, 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner first experienced it between 11 and 17 years of age. (California Department of Public Health). This is an incredibly alarming statistic, illustrating a clear need to provide education for one of the states most vulnerable populations-children. Although California is globally renowned as a leader in policy making, it is now lagging behind other states to create a domestic violence prevention education curriculum for its middle school and high school students. One of the many consequences of not having this kind of education is greater negative health outcomes for students. The United States Department of Health and Human Services states that children who witness or are victims of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse are at higher risk for health problems as adults. These can include mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. They may also include diabetes, obesity, heart disease, poor self-esteem, and other problems. This statement acknowledges that domestic violence not only harms the adult population, but negatively impacts adolescents as well. The state of California needs to pass a prevention policy that mandates students in grades 7-12 receive domestic violence education.


For the purpose of this paper, domestic violence will be defined "as a spectrum and often a pattern of behaviors that includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse and/or economic control used by adults or adolescents against their current or former intimate partners in an attempt to exercise power and authority, which has a destructive, harmful effect on individuals, the family and the community" (California Department of Public Health). It is imperative to this paper that the definition for domestic violence is inclusive of adolescents. It should also be noted that supporting evidence in this paper refers to the following terms: teen dating violence (TDV) and adolescent relationship abuse (ARA). For the purpose of this paper, these terms should be treated as synonymous with domestic violence. When the paper refers to prevention policy, it refers to primary prevention as defined by the Center for Disease Control: "[activities] that take place before violence has occurred to prevent initial perpetration or victimization" (Lee, 15). Additionally, there will be times when the paper refers to or uses models of prevention against sexual violence and assault. …

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