Bill would require Wisconsin schools to educate 7th to 12th graders about dating violence

MADISON, Wis. (WISC) -- A bill introduced for the third time at the Capitol aims to stop abusive teens from becoming abusive adults by teaching Wisconsin students about consent.

"Unhealthy relationship behaviors, abusive behaviors, start as young as 12 to 13 years old. So we know these behaviors are not something that come from nowhere. These are learned patterns of dangerous behavior that begin in teen years," said Chase Tarrier, public policy coordinator with End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin.

The bill would require school districts to develop a curriculum about dating violence for middle and high school students. Schools would also need to create a policy saying dating violence is unacceptable, and train school staff to respond to abusive situations.

"Just last year, 2017,15 percent of all female students in Wisconsin experienced teen dating violence of a sexual nature and 9 percent experienced dating violence in a physical nature," said Tarrier.

Rep. Melissa Sargent, the primary author of the bill, said she will do everything she can to pass the measure this legislative session and show students what a healthy relationship looks like.

"Many of these kids may have never dated before. Everyone has their first time dating. And some of those kids come from homes where there may not be healthy relationships even in their homes," said Sargent.

Social media has created another forum for teenagers to bully and harass their partners. This puts teens at a higher risk of eating disorders, dropping out of school and becoming a victim later on in life. 

The goal is to break the cycle of abuse by teaching teens what's unacceptable from the beginning. Twenty other states have passed similar legislation. The Marshfield School District is the only district currently teaching this curriculum.

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