MA Bill Would Require Dating Violence Prevention in Health and Sex Ed Programs

Grief stricken parents were on Beacon Hill pushing for legislation they say could have saved their daughter’s life. Malcom Astley and Mary Dunne of Wayland are urging lawmakers to require dating violence prevention as part of health and sexual education programs in public schools. Malcom Astley is a retired principal….as he addressed the joint education committee, his voice quavered with emotion.

“I am Malcom Astley … July 3rd 2011.”

Astley’s 18-year-old daughter Lauren Dunne Astley, was stabbed and strangled to death by her former boyfriend Nathaniel Fujita. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. But Lauren’s life could have been saved…according to her mother Mary Dunne…especially if there had been safety training about breakups.:

“Lauren was a confident and smart and talented young woman. If only she had learned and internalized that singularly important lesson – never go see your ex alone after a breakup….bottles.”

Dunne told the panel that while schools focus on academics, they’ve lost sight of teaching children about healthy relationships, empathy and caring.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in 11 teens say they have been the victim of physical dating violence; a separate survey indicates its even more widespread. At least 19 states have laws that urge or require school curriculum to include teen dating violence. Many states have also adopted teen dating violence awareness weeks or months. Advocates in Massachusetts say the state hasn’t updated its school health curriculum in 14 years.