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Break the Cycle issues first-ever state-by-state report cards on teen dating violence

78 Percent of states receive a 'C' or lower on the protection they offer teen victims of domestic violence

LOS ANGELES — Break the Cycle, one of the nation's leading organizations addressing teen dating violence, issued today the first ever state-by-state report card evaluating the level of legal protection each state offers young victims of domestic and dating violence. The report was issued in conjunction with National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week.

The report cards are designed to draw special attention to the discrepancies between the protections afforded to adult victims of violence as compared to teen victims. States were graded on an A through F scale. Those states that do not allow minors to obtain restraining orders were given an automatic "F." According to Break the Cycle, 15 states received an "F" while only three -- California, New Hampshire and Oklahoma -- received "A's."

The grading system is comprised of an in-depth assessment of key elements within each state's domestic violence statutes. The system was established after Break the Cycle conducted a nationwide review of state laws. The study revealed a number of common trends -- both positive and negative -- that directly impact the protection of teens. Considered in the equation were such factors as: age restrictions; parental consent requirements; and whether or not dating even qualifies as a "domestic relationship."

"This report card is a wake-up call and clearly demonstrates that we all need to take action now to protect our teens," said Jessica Aronoff, Executive Director of Break the Cycle, "Young people's lives are at risk. Teen dating violence is known to be a precursor to adult relationship violence."

Along with the grading system, Break the Cycle released recommendations for improvement of state domestic violence laws. The organization is working with law enforcement, community leaders and politicians across the country to raise awareness and strengthen protections for teens.

"Dating violence is not only dangerous but devastating to the long-term health and welfare of our nation's youth. This issue is affecting one out of every three American teenagers. It is critical that we advocate for changes to better protect young people in every state in the country," said Aronoff.

For more information or to view the full report, visit www.breakthecycle.org.

Statistics on Teen Domestic Violence

-- A 2006 study demonstrated one in three teens know a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by
dating partner.

-- The Department of Justice has consistently found that young women between the ages of 16 and 24 are the most vulnerable to domestic violence, experiencing the highest per capita rates of intimate partner violence-nearly triple the overall average.

-- Among high-risk youth, dating violence is even more commonplace. Studies indicate a high correlation between dating violence and other juvenile delinquent behavior. In fact, nearly 73% of girls who enter the correctional system report being victims of physical or sexual abuse.

-- Teen victims of domestic violence are substantially more likely than their classmates to bring guns or other weapons to school and three times as likely to be involved in a physical fight.

-- Abused girls are significantly more likely to get involved in other risky behaviors. They are 4 to 6 times more likely to get pregnant and 8 to 9 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide.

About Break the Cycle
Break the Cycle believes everyone has the right to safe and healthy relationships. As the leading voice for teens on the issue of dating violence, Break the Cycle advocates for policy and legislative changes that will better protect the rights and promote the health of teens nationwide. Engaging, educating and empowering youth through prevention and intervention programs, Break the Cycle helps young people identify and build healthy relationships. For more information, please visit www.breakthecycle.org.

Source: Break the Cycle

Lori Teranishi of Van Prooyen Greenfield LLP, +1-415-981-1964, lteranishi@vpgllp.com,
or Marjorie Gilberg of Break the Cycle, +1-310-424-2805, marjorie.gilberg@breakthecycle.org  

Web site: http://www.breakthecycle.org/ 

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