Yesterday, the LAUSD Board voted unanimously on a resolution aimed at preventing teen dating violence and creating prevention strategies in schools. This vote comes after 17-year-old Cindi Santana was stabbed to death in a courtyard at her LA-area high school. Her ex-boyfriend, Abraham Lopez, allegedly stabbed her. Another student and a dean were also stabbed trying to intervene.
This policy, which was adopted from Peace Over Violence, is an initiative that the sexual and domestic violence center has been putting efforts toward for more than 10 years. Peace Over Violence has been working on the current form of the policy for the past six months, and it was slated to go to vote last Tuesday; however the unfortunate tragedy of Santana’s murder required the board to postpone the vote.
The estimated $2 million proposal involves hiring a district coordinator on dating violence and providing training for one staff person at each school. The program will also focus on educating parents and students to recognize warning signs and promote healthy relationships. The following advocates and legislators told the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence that they welcome the resolution as a potentially significant step toward keeping students safe on campus:
Assemblymember Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) said the South East High murder shows that schools must be a part of any strategy to address youth relationship violence. “The tragic death of Cindi Santana highlights the magnitude of the problem of teen dating violence,” he said.  “We must work together to find workable solutions that our schools can incorporate in a culturally appropriate manner.”
Assembly Speaker pro Tem Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) agreed that the time is ripe for new community strategies. “This tragic incident that happened on a school campus illustrates how teen dating violence affects an entire community,” Ma said. “Now more than ever, our state needs new innovative programs and role models to promote healthy relationships.”
Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), offered his support of the resolution, saying “I am deeply saddened by this tragic event that took place in my district, and I applaud the Los Angeles Unified School District for considering this resolution, which I hope will help to prevent future tragedies from occurring.”
Among adolescents aged 12 to 21, almost 3 in 10 have experienced violence in opposite-sex relationships; teens identifying as LGBTQ are as likely to experience violence in same-sex dating relationships. Women ages 16-24 experience the highest rates of relationship violence.