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Break the Cycle releases '2009 State-By-State Teen Dating Violence Report Card'

Nearly half of states fail in protecting victims of teen dating abuse

Posted: March 24, 2009 6:13 p.m.
Updated: March 24, 2009 3:34 p.m.
 
LOS ANGELES - Break the Cycle (www.breakthecycle.org), the nation's leading non-profit teen dating violence prevention organization, today announces the results of their "2009 State-by-State Teen Dating Violence Report Card" that grades each state's laws on their ability to protect victims of teen dating violence seeking protection orders against their abusers.

As the leading voice for teens on the issue of dating violence and the co-chairs of the national task force that drafted the Violence Against Women Act of 2005, Break the Cycle offers education prevention and intervention programs for teens, advocates for laws and policies to better protect the rights and promote the health of teens nationwide.

Victims of teen dating abuse face overwhelming obstacles to getting help because, as minors, it is often difficult for them to move from their home, change their school or gain access to basic securities like money, shelter and transportation.

Exacerbating the barriers is the fact that few states recognize teens as victims of domestic abuse and therefore do not allow them to take out restraining orders.

In 2008, Break the Cycle created The State-by-State Teen Dating Violence Report Card to assess each state's laws and their ability to protect teens from abusive relationships. (See complete report for methodology and findings).

"With several states changing their laws to better protect teens since 2008, we have already seen that these grades spur action among state legislatures throughout the country, as well as activism among our nation's youth," said Marjorie Gilberg, Executive Director of Break the Cycle.

Sample of Key Findings:
-- New Hampshire is the only state where the law specifically allows a minor of any age to apply for a protection order by themselves.
-- In Missouri domestic violence protection orders are only available to adults.
-- Nine states, CA, CT, MN, NJ, OK, OR, UT, WA and WY, allow minors to obtain protection or restraining orders without the involvement of a parent, guardian or other adult if they meet certain requirements, such as age or relationship to abuser.
-- Four states, AZ, ID, IA and NV, explicitly require that a minor must have a parent or legal guardian involved in the process of applying for a protection or restraining order.
-- Seven states impose explicit age restrictions on the person against whom a protection or restraining order is obtained: AZ, CO, MI, MO, NV, NJ, and OK.

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