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Youth Network Presents First Draft of Teen Dating Abuse Prevention and Response Policy to IPS Board of Commissioners

By Lindsay Hill Stawick, director of programs, DVN

In April, four members of DVN’s Youth Network went before the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of Commissioners to advocate for a Teen Dating Abuse Prevention and Response Policy to be implemented district-wide.  The Youth Network members outlined the importance of the policy and the impact it would have on students, staff, and administration.  The proposed plan was well received, and we began working on the first draft of the policy with IPS.

Last week, Maria De Leon, DVN Youth Network member and IPS alumni, and I went before the board to present a draft of the policy.  The board was highly receptive and echoed our sentiments of how vital a policy like this is to their students’ health, safety, and well being.  Highlights of our remarks include:


  • According to national statistics, 1 in 3 teenagers experience some form of teen dating abuse which includes verbal/emotional abuse, stalking, abuse through technology, sexual abuse, and physical abuse.  According to 2015 Indiana State Department of Health statistics, Indiana ranks 3rd highest out of 30 states for the percentage of high school students who reported sexual dating violence.


If you break that down for IPS, the 2017-2018 high school enrollment was 5,634. Based on national statistics, that means 1,878 students experienced teen dating abuse, and approximately 680 of those more than 1,800 students  experienced sexual dating violence. It is also important to note that these numbers are likely much higher given lack of knowledge around these topics, accessibility to services, inability to identify a trusted adult, fears related to reporting, and the lack of policies and procedures at the school level.


  • Implementing this teen dating abuse prevention and response policy would mean that Indianapolis Public Schools is committed to creating a safe and nurturing environment for EVERY person. It would also mean that IPS is taking concrete steps to create a culture where victims and survivors of abuse are supported and people who behave abusively are held accountable.



  • This proactive and preventative policy is a great compliment to the existing Title IX policy.  Currently, the Title IX policy does not specifically identify teen dating violence as a protected issue. Nor does it provide a roadmap for students, school staff or administrators to utilize when this issue arises.



  • At the higher education level, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, Section 304, mandates that Title IX include prevention education and response provisions on the topics of teen dating violence, domestic violence and stalking.  As a leader in our community, IPS is well positioned to pave the way for K-12 institutions to include the SAME provisions and support as the higher education institutions that many IPS scholars attend after graduation.



  • If implemented, IPS will not be alone.  DVN has the capacity to support IPS to ensure the policy is executed to fidelity.  We are already working with the Title IX Coordinator and Student Services Department to make this policy becomes a reality, and we are very proud of our progress and the relationships we have built.



  • As a student who graduated from Crispus Attucks, I believe that this policy will have a positive impact for the students and staff. This policy is so important because every student, including victims and survivors of abuse, will feel safer and be empowered when they see that IPS as a whole is taking action on an issue that can affect anyone.



  • I personally want to make sure that current and future students have the same opportunity as I did to become educated on what domestic violence is, what a healthy vs. unhealthy relationship looks like, and the difference between physical and emotional abuse. I would also like to mention that during my internship this summer with the Center for Victim and Human Rights, an organization that provides legal services to domestic violence victims, I learned something very important and eye-opening. If we were to see the number of reports increase, it is not because the problem is becoming bigger but because we are empowering victims to speak out.



  • This policy will enable students to feel comfortable in trusting IPS staff. IPS is the largest public school district in Indiana and are committed to serving students with what they need. We can accomplish this by becoming the first school district to implement a teen dating abuse prevention and response policy.  


We will present the final product to the IPS Board of Commissioners at the end of August where they will vote on whether or not to implement the policy.  We are excited to be on this journey and look forward to providing an update in the upcoming weeks!

You can check out the Fox59 news story here.

To bring our healthy relationship prevention education curriculum to your school or youth group, email Lindsay at