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Helping Schools and Colleges Handle Dating-Partner Violence

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Dating couples in Kentucky can now seek emergency civil protections from intimate-partner violence. (Greg Stotelmyer)
Dating couples in Kentucky can now seek emergency civil protections from intimate-partner violence. (Greg Stotelmyer)
March 15, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A new Kentucky law extending civil protections from violence to dating couples took effect Jan. 1.

Now, the challenge is making sure those who need the new type of protection, an Interpersonal Protective Order (IPO), know how to get it.

Guidelines have been put in place to assist high schools and colleges in crafting plans to help students who need protection.

Carol Jordan, executive director of the University of Kentucky's Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women, sees the new law as a clarion call to stop the cycle of intimate partner abuse.

"Not only are rates of violence high among teenagers," Jordan explained, "we also know that if you are victimized as a teen, you are more likely to be victimized as a college student, and more likely to be victimized again as an adult."

For years, Emergency Protective Orders (EPO) in Kentucky covered only married couples, or those who live together or have a child together - which forced dating partners to file criminal charges in order to seek protection. An IPO now provides civil protections similar to an EPO for dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

Jordan's office collaborated with the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence to produce resource documents tailored specifically for high schools and colleges. She said the guidelines outline the IPO process, step-by-step.

"The other thing is that we bring up a number of additional, legal responsibilities that schools and universities have for violence-related cases," she added.

The documents cover, for example, reporting crimes on campus, insuring student confidentiality, and detailing how minors are affected by the law.

Jordan said minors can seek an IPO, or be served one. Bottom line, she said, the new law is a powerful and effective tool to deal with potentially dangerous situations.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY