Webinar Discusses Teen Protective Orders as a Way to Curb Dating Violence

As part of the growing recognition that dating violence is a serious problem, 20 states now allow young people to seek juvenile protective orders against their alleged abusers. Earlier this month, the Battered Women’s Justice Project hosted a webinar to help youth workers understand teen protective orders and deal with common challenges to making them work.

The 90-minute session began with a presentation by Advocates for Human Potential researcher Andrew Klein, who led a recent study analyzing domestic violence petitions filed by New York teens (PDF, 3917KB) between 2009 and 2010.

Here are some of the key findings from that study:

  • More than 83 percent of the approximately 1,200 youth who filed petitions said they had been harassed, which in New York can include stalking, cyberstalking and physical assault.
  • Alleged abusers were three years older than their partners, on average, and more than 50 percent had prior criminal histories.
  • About 15 percent of teens who filed petitions were not issued a protective order of any kind; of those protective orders issued, most lasted only one or two months.
  • More than a quarter of teen petitioners said they were abused again within two years of filing their report, and nearly 15 percent of alleged abusers were later arrested for assault.

Klein said it’s important to teach youth advocates, police offers and judges about teens’ rights to file a petition and the potential benefits of long-term protection. Building knowledge in those systems, he says, can result in more meaningful protective orders and encourage more young people to stand up against potential abusers.

Later in the webinar, Andrew Sta. Anna discussed ways to help youth overcome fears related to filing a petition. As a supervising attorney at Day One, a legal services and advocacy organization in New York, Sta. Anna says he helps young people

  • create personal safety plans
  • prepare for facing their alleged abuser in court

He works with schools to take steps such as

  • switching students’ schedules to separate them from controlling partners
  • asking friends to walk them from class to class.

Watch “Teen Protection Orders – Research and Advocacy” on the Battered Women’s Justice Project website.

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