Bill would require schools to have dating abuse resources

4:17 PM, Mar 6, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - Don't let this teen's good looks and beauty queen status fool you into thinking her life is perfect.

Just two years ago, Ms. Laguna Hills Teen 2012 was in an abusive relationship, and she says no one at school would help.

"They said we can't help you," said Morgan Berschauer, domestic abuse survivor. "We didn't see it. We can't do anything."

At least the now 18-year-old high school senior lived to tell about it.

Inspired by the case of Cindi Santana, who police say was stabbed to death by her enraged ex- boyfriend last year in South Gate, a small city in Los Angeles County, Morgan Berschauer and other students are teaming up with Assem. Ricardo Lara to reduce dating abuse in California's middle and high schools.

"Many students witnessed the attack," said Liz Gomez with South East High School Woodcraft Rangers. "When Cindi died, students were heartbroken to have lost a peer and a friend."

Lara's bill (AB 1880) would require schools to establish a dating abuse policy in their safety plans and ensure that resources are available to help students.

The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence says one in four adolescents report verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse from their dating partner each year. Such violence could lead to things like with depression, poor academic achievement and eating disorders.

"Know that we're not going to let this issue go. We're not going to let this issue be taken lightly in Sacramento," said Lara, D-Bell Garden.

Berschauer hopes other lawmakers will join the effort.

Nannette Miranda


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