Are schools prepared to handle teen dating violence?

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by Brandy Aguilar, Special projects

azfamily.com

Posted on July 24, 2012 at 9:59 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 24 at 10:00 AM

PHOENIX -- Teen dating violence is a growing problem across the country, but are schools prepared to handle it?

“When my daughter was murdered it didn't just affect my family, it didn't just affect my daughter,” said Kaity’s Way President Bobbi Sudberry. “It affected the community as a whole and the world, as far as I'm concerned, because they lost a very good individual.”

Kaity Sudberry had her whole life in front of her, but it was cut short after the Valley 17-year-old was gunned down by her ex-boyfriend walking home from school more than four years ago.

“When we were going through this with Kaity, yes, we felt very alone,” Sudberry said. “And then when I started looking into things, I realized there were resources out there, we just had not been given that information.”

Sudberry didn't want to see the same tragedy happen to another family so she started Kaity's Way. It’s a nonprofit helping Arizona teens involved in violent relationships.

“While we have had some school districts in Arizona that have been so receptive and willing to bring us out to present Kaity's story and help educate their kids about dating violence, there are other school districts that are not so much,” Sudberry said.

According to a new nationwide study involving more than 500 counselors, teen dating violence is not a high priority in schools. A survey found more than 81percent said their school had no protocol to respond when dating violence is reported, 90percent had no staff training to deal with this issue.

“I really like the fact that the counselors were surveyed on this because they usually have their pulse on the student population to some degree,” Sudberry said.

A sign Sudberry believes shows that when you talk about teen dating violence in a school setting, more young lives are going to be saved.

“I think a lot of people don't know what to do and that's why it's so important that we educate the community about what to do,” Sudberry said.

For more information on Kaity’s Way visit www.kaitysway.org.

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