A memorial at South Gate High School for Cindi Santana, 17, who was fatally stabbed by her boyfriend Abraham Lopez, 18. Pictured is Jorge Garcia, 16, who intervened during the stabbing.
The Los Angeles Unified School District is set to vote Tuesday on a new proposal which aims to teach high school students about violence in relationships. The $2 million program would include designating a "point person" on every campus to facilitate relationship interventions and provide resources for those struggling with the raw emotions of a romantic relationship.
"Kids bring with them all kinds of stress to school, and to imagine that they can just turn that off when the book opens or when they turn on the computer screen in the classroom is fiction," said Steve Zimmer, an LAUSD board member and creator of the new proposal.
About one in three adolescent girls in the U.S. has been physically, emotionally or verbally abused by a dating partner. One in 10 high school students has been hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend. The recent death of South Gate high school student Cindi Santana is only one example of the extreme results of a violent teen relationship.
Santana was allegedly attacked and killed by her ex-boyfriend while attending school at South East High School. Zimmer described this event as "tragic."
"I don't think that any of us have words to express our sorrow and grief," Zimmer said.
But through his experiences on high school campuses throughout L.A., Zimmer said he often sees less drastic examples of relationship abuse. Whether it is excessive text messaging or girlfriends and boyfriends pressuring one another not to go to class, many teens struggle with the raw emotion of a new relationship, Zimmer said.
If the proposal is passed, LAUSD will begin the process by creating a training schedule and identifying individuals to serve as the point person on each campus. The district has enough money to begin the implementation, but Zimmer said that they continue to actively scout foundations and grant allotments for continual funding.
Although there are several L.A. campuses that already have a teen dating violence program, the new proposal will ensure that every school in the district has such a program. The end goal, Zimmer said, is to ensure that all teenagers feel comfortable and safe, and learn how to appropriately manage their emotions in their young relationships.
Steve Zimmer, member of the Los Angeles Unified School Board