Schools ill-equipped to respond to teen dating violence

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  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    May 13, 2013 7:24 p.m.

    I don't want to sound too old fashioned or whatever but one counsel I would give high school students is to avoid "relationships" at this this age. It's okay to date but date multiple people in groups. Getting a boyfriend/girlfriend is generally a bad idea at this age for more reasons I can even go into.

    Schools and counselors could have a role but to blame schools for this is a bit out of whack. I think if any student came to a counselor or a teacher they would be helpful but schools have a lot to deal with just teaching the curriculum. I think most adults in our schools are caring and compassionate people.

    But what advice can one give except what I offered in paragraph one besides adding this caveat. If in an abusive relationship, leave. No one deserves that, period. It's not normal, it's not acceptable. There are plenty of fish in the sea that won't do that. The key is to actually fish and when a carp (abusive boyfriend) is snatched, throw it back posthaste.

  • Linda King Mesa, AZ
    May 12, 2013 6:40 p.m.

    For additional information about successful programs appropriate for schools, see

  • Linda King Mesa, AZ
    May 12, 2013 5:55 p.m.

    As I read the article in the Deseret News published 5/9/13 , I experienced a myriad of emotional responses.
    After our experience which cost the life of our precious daughter, we decided to try and make a difference by forming a not-for-profit company, known as “Fix the Hurt”.
    It is inconceivable that there are so few programs to address, raise awareness and help those inexperienced students avoid abusive relationship, and yet the upward trend continues.
    In some of the lower economic sectors our population dating violence, dating partner rape and domestic violence is a way of life and either met with retaliation or just accepted as a way of life.
    What is needed are programs that will reach across all sectors of the community, raise awareness, prepare people to recognize and respond to each incident of dating violence. Time and space does not allow me to elaborate on all of the horror of this plague that afflicts out society.
    We have had success in getting one pilot program using performing arts in high schools in El Paso, Texas

  • Man_of_letters Salt Lake County, UT
    May 11, 2013 10:06 a.m.

    MormonSean, "If what you have to say about my comments is negative, please don't reply to them."

    Feedback, misunderstanding, disagreement, and response in general is not necessarily negative, though it can be uncomfortable when ideas you've tried to express reflect poorly upon you. If you avoid becoming offended, this feedback can be very helpful in improving your communication skills and ability to defend your points of view. Don't be too hasty to dismiss opposing comments, even if it's a matter of misunderstanding. Just learn to defend your point, or to acknowledge that you were mistaken or have changed your idea.

  • Man_of_letters Salt Lake County, UT
    May 11, 2013 10:01 a.m.

    Pete1215, whether it falls under their jurisdiction or not, the problem is falling into the hands of school counselors by choice of the victims themselves. These counselors deserve training to know how to respond to these accusations, how to help the victim, and yes, how and when to refer the case to the proper authorities. This is not an issue of giving schools increased jurisdiction, it's just about helping them handle an existing problem.

  • Man_of_letters Salt Lake County, UT
    May 11, 2013 10:01 a.m.

    UtahBlueDevil, as the article states "More than 60 percent of school counselors reported they had assisted victims in the past two years, despite the lack of training."

    This isn't about expanding responsibilities, it's about improving an existing situation by ensuring that when students do come forth about dating violence, their needs can be addressed in an appropriate manner.

    If your children are in public school, they are out of your hands for at least ~8 hours a day. During that time, you want them to be in the hands of people you can trust. This article is a push to ensure that those to whom you already trust your children will be better trained to handle these situations which they already have to deal with, albeit without training.

  • Rapunzelthebrave The Great State of, TX
    May 11, 2013 8:29 a.m.

    You state, "We knew most of us weren't bad or anything, but young men are vulnerable because they're still learning to control themselves. Not just sexual desires, but physical aggression, knowing one's own strength...."

    You call young men "vulnerable" (implying victimhood) in relation to their impulses (controlling themselves). This thinking actually excuses sexual violence and other violence by telling the perpetrator that "He's just going to have to learn to control himself better" and that he's a victim of his impulses in essence. This belies the true underlying issue: That ANY person who is violent (sexually or otherwise) towards any other person is doing so because they have not internalized that the other person is a human being worthy of empathy and respect and their equal.

    Additionally, you yourself reference being alone with a girl as comparable to standing on the edge of a cliff. This implies that young women themselves are somehow inherently "dangerous"- fitting in with your description of young men as "vulnerable" (above"). Instead of thinking of young women as cliffs, lets thing about them as human beings - as daughters of God - who deserve respect no matter the circumstances.

  • Rapunzelthebrave The Great State of, TX
    May 11, 2013 8:19 a.m.

    1) If what I have to say about your comments is negative then that's called disagreement. And, it is up to you to respect my ability to disagree with you.
    2) Your overarching suggestion to avoid the sexual abuse of young women by young men is to prevent the two sexes from being alone together. I will first address this:

    If preventing the sexes from mingling in a situation where they would possibly be alone together singly were to work we would see that sexual abuse had completely dissolved in places that already make this completely illegal such as Saudi Arabia and other fundamentalist Muslim nations. Instead, this solution completely ignores the true underlying problem: That of young men (and older men) who have instilled within themselves the idea that women (young and old) are inferior to themselves and that it is permissible to act upon whatever impulses they might have. You state that young men cannot learn self control when alone with each other (your words). This is absolutely false. Young men must be expected to treat young women with respect in any situation - whether or not that young woman is alone with him.

  • MormonSean Salt Lake City, UT
    May 10, 2013 10:49 a.m.


    You inferred the exact opposite of what I was saying. And I'll ask you not to suggest anything in my words if your own interpretation. Please show me more respect than saying I am encouraging abusive behavior.

    Everyone struggles with controlling our choices. That's a fact of our mortal existence. Even good people make mistakes and I'm only encouraging that we teach youth to avoid situations where those are likely. I also believe that when we teach this, many young women think we're saying "guys are bad" and that *I believe we can avoid that misunderstanding* through teaching that all of us struggle with temptations that can lead to serious transgressions.

    What is truly ironic is that you not only did not understand that, but you so rudely accused me of arguing the opposite.

    If you'll notice, I replied to the first comments about who's responsibility it is to teach youth. I did not say they enable abuse or accuse them of wrong doing. I shared my different views of helping others in a tactful way.

    If what you have to say about my comments is negative, please don't reply to them.

  • Rapunzelthebrave The Great State of, TX
    May 10, 2013 8:57 a.m.

    All young men are not naturally abusers who have to learn to control themselves as MormonSean implies.

    If you want to prevent young men from becoming abusers emphasize to them from a very early age that all young women are their equals. Teach them that compassion and empathy are not mainly "feminine" traits, and that they can develop thise traits within themselves. Church leaders in places like Utah (with a higher rate of sexual assault than the rest of the country) could do a great dealto help by emphasizing that the women in these young mem's lives are all descended from a Heavenly Mother who is Her husband's equal, that men are not to rule over women (which psychologically places women in anothrr category from "human"), that women and girls do NOT control the thoughts of any man - young or old - they have absolute control over their own thoughts and actions.

    Ironically MormonSean's excuses actually encourage abusive behavior in young men.

  • MormonSean Salt Lake City, UT
    May 10, 2013 8:45 a.m.

    I don't believe schools are the first responsibility. Parents are. But I also believe that none of us lives in isolation and that we all have a responsibility to help each other. Teens have a lot of pressure on them from multiple directions. The more lines of defense we give them, the better.

    Some disagree about who has responsibility, but the truth stands that we CAN help each other. It may not be required for a school to be a line of defense, but it is foolish not to want one. Not only because there are some children who don't even have a first line, but for another reason.

    With two lines of defense available, what leader would send those under their guard into dangerous territory with only one?

    The real question is what will help children, not whether it inconveniences us to take extra on responsibility. As a hungry child sits alone on a curb, some say "this isn't my responsibility".

    We can be the priest, the Levite, or the compassionate Samaritan. Which is right is not determined by responsibility but whether it helps.

    We ought to help youth, unconditional of responsibility.

  • MormonSean Salt Lake City, UT
    May 10, 2013 8:13 a.m.

    Abuse may not be 100% preventable and I'm not saying it is. I'm just saying we can help. We can help both young women and young men understand that most problems only occur when they are alone with each other. Some believe that it is a hard expectation. I very well understand that and have no quarrel with that. But it is still true that most problems only occur when alone, etc.

    Young men won't learn self control while their alone with a girl. You don't learn to avoid falling off the edge of a cliff by standing on the edge. Being cautious requires that we keep our distance from it. If I were on a high and narrow cliff I would be scared to death of getting near that edge.

    And maybe people won't agree with my examples exactly, but I do believe that we can agree that young women can be taught that even good men are still learning to control themselves and both can be taught to avoid situations where risk is high for loosing self control.

    These standards, among others, other faiths, other practices, can help to protect youth.

  • MormonSean Salt Lake City, UT
    May 10, 2013 8:03 a.m.

    I believe the best way we can help is prevention. I think we need to spend far more time encouraging young men and women not only to live higher standards, but to protect them as best they can.

    And this isn't about young women alone. It's also involves young men. In the LDS Church, both are taught to avoid being along with each other. Not all do, but teens who learn to make this normal practice are far less likely to be at risk.

    In one High School class of mine, nearly all young men agreed that girls trust guys way too much. We knew most of us weren't bad or anything, but young men are vulnerable because they're still learning to control themselves. Not just sexual desires, but physical aggression, knowing one's own strength, etc.

    As a teen I was with a friend in a school hallway and I accidentally hurt her. I felt so horrible. I wasn't strong. I was the opposite of strong. But I hurt her. All young men, no matter how good, struggle with controlling themselves or knowing their own strength, etc.

    I've got one more post coming.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 10, 2013 7:38 a.m.

    I agree with Pete..... how did who are kids date and their personal relationships become part of the schools responsibility? Are we as parents that read to abdicate our parental rights and responsibilities so we can stand indemnified to how our kids turn out.

    As human beings, if someone one is being abused, I would hope all would want to help, on a personal level. But to make teachers social workers too..... they have enough on their plates already. Heck, the NRA wants them to be armed guards too.

  • Pete1215 Lafayette, IN
    May 10, 2013 5:45 a.m.

    If it did not happen on school grounds, it is not the school's responsibility. Our schools already have an impossible task in this goofy society. Those who engage in assault should experience a "time out" in the community jail.