The 2007 death of Heather Norris, 20, was killed by her boyfriend in Indianapolis, is one of several stemming from abuse in teenage dating relationships that have spurred states and communities to search for new ways to impress on adolescents, parents, and teachers the warning signs of dangerous dating behavior, reports the New York Times.
A Texas law requires school districts to define dating violence in school safety codes. Rhode Island in 2007 adopted the Lindsay Ann Burke Act – prompted by the murder of a young woman by a former boyfriend – requiring school districts to teach students in grades 7 through 12 about dating abuse. New York expanded its domestic violence law to allow victims, including teenagers in dating relationships, to obtain a restraining order against an abuser in family court rather than having to seek help from the criminal justice system. A New York City survey found that dating violence had risen by more than 40 percent since 1999. Nationally, public health research indicates that the rate of abusive teen relationships has hovered around 10 percent. Experts say abuse appears to be increasing as more harassment, name-calling, and ridicule takes place among teenagers on the Internet and by cellphone.