March 23, 2010 |

Readshaw bill aims to protect teens from violence

The state House has overwhelmingly passed a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, aimed at protecting teens from a potentially violent boyfriend or girlfriend.

Mr. Readshaw said the legislation (H.B. 2026) would require school districts to integrate teen dating violence education into middle and high school curriculums, and to develop an anti-dating violence policy. Age-appropriate education would inform students about the danger of teen dating violence, how to recognize its warning signs and how to avoid becoming a victim.

The bill is named the "Demi Brae Cuccia Law" as a memorial to a Monroeville, Westmoreland County 16-year-old girl stabbed to death in 2007 by her 17-year-old boyfriend. The boyfriend was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Rep. Readshaw noted statistics show teenage girls are three times more likely to be victims of relationship violence than adult women, and physical or sexual assault by their dating partner is reported by one in five high school girls.

"There's plenty of evidence that shows we need to ensure that our teens are aware of the possibility they could be harmed by a boyfriend or girlfriend and that in many instances there are early warning signs that their date may be inclined to hurt them and what they can do to short-circuit the danger," said Mr. Readshaw. "Instructing teachers, aides, school nurses and counselors how to inform students about dating violence and alert them to the warning signs is the most effective way to head it off before a student gets hurt, or even killed such as happened in Monroeville."

Rep. Readshaw said the measure now moves to the Senate for consideration and he is hopeful the broad bipartisan support it received in the House will provide it with the momentum to see final enactment.

Family and friends have created the Demi Brae Cuccia Awareness Organization (www.demibrae.com) in her memory to promote awareness of teen dating violence and educate young people on how to avoid becoming a victim.

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