Truancy, academic difficulties, and aggressive behaviors are some of the signs that children may be experiencing or witnessing domestic violence. All too often, however, teachers simply label children with these problems as troublemakers.
The goal of the demonstration programs is to address the impact of family violence on school violence and substance abuse. Studies show that children who are abused physically or sexually at home or who witness family violence are more likely to become violent and abuse drugs or alcohol.
Wellstone’s amendment will fund school programs that educate teachers, administrators, staff, and students about the impact of domestic violence on children.
These programs will also be required to address the impact of dating violence on youth. According to Wellstone’s legislative assistant, Jill Morningstar, physical and sexual assault in adolescent dating relationships has increased considerably. Domestic violence coalitions recognize dating violence as a major problem and have advocated for its inclusion in legislation authorizing programs to reduce domestic violence.
Wellstone’s amendment will also provide grants to schools to develop policies on identifying and referring children affected by domestic or dating violence to trained staff on site or on call.
To receive funding, the schools must collaborate with experts on domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse, according to the bill.
The Senate is expected to vote on the omnibus education reauthorization bill this month, according to Morningstar.
The Better Education for Students and Teachers Act can be accessed on the Web at thomas.loc.gov\ by searching on the bill number, S 1. ▪