Ohio Legislature Acts to Help Protect Teenagers in Abusive Relationships
In 1992, Tina Croucher, a part-time student at Miami University Middletown, was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend after he broke into her family’s home. Fifteen years later, Johanna Orozco, a Cleveland-area high school student, was shot in the face by a former boyfriend who had been recently released from prison for raping her. Both Tina and Johanna had been abused by their attackers during their relationships.
Johanna luckily survived her attack, but these incidents offer just a glimpse into what has become a disturbing reality for many teenagers and young adults. Last year, a series of stories in the Columbus Dispatch found that Ohio teens ages 15 to 19 are twice as likely to experience dating violence as they are to be injured in a car crash. And while adults who find themselves in an abusive relationship can obtain a protection order or take other measures to help keep their attackers away, no such option has been available to teenagers.
To help better protect teenagers who are victims of dating violence, the General Assembly recently passed House Bill 10, which gives juvenile courts the same authority to issue protection orders as common pleas courts. While this bill will not put an end to dating violence among young adults, it will provide victims with an additional layer of defense – an individual who defies a protection order and goes to a victim’s home or work, calls them on the phone or damages their property can be arrested immediately. House Bill 10 has been signed by the governor and will take effect in June.
Legislators are also working to help educate young people about the risks associated with dating violence and unhealthy relationships. Last year we passed House Bill 19, which requires schools to include dating violence prevention in their health curriculum for students in grades 7 through 12. Fittingly, House Bill 19 has been named “Tina’s Law” in recognition of Tina Croucher and her parents, who have spoken to thousands of southwest Ohio students about dating violence and how teenagers and young adults can stay safe.
The heartbreaking stories of Tina Croucher and Johanna Orozco and others who have experienced violence and abuse at the hands of their boyfriend or girlfriend are a stark reminder of the need to protect all victims of domestic violence and ensure that their abusers are held accountable. Although House Bill 10 and House Bill 19 will not prevent all abusive relationships, they will help increase awareness of this issue and save lives.
Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions or concerns about any state-related matter. You can reach my office by phone at (614) 466-9737, by e-mail at SD07@senate.state.oh.us or by writing State Senator Shannon Jones, Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215. I look forward to hearing from you.
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