Congressman and Students Unite to Prevent Dating Violence

Image credit: Family Photo

Lawmakers, parents, students, and beauty queens have united to prevent teen dating violence after the death of Cindi Santana last year at South East High School. Morgan Berschauer, Ms. Laguna Hills Teen 2012, was in an abusive relationship. When she told school officials of the abuse, they reportedly told her they couldn’t help. After hearing about Cindi’s tragic death on school grounds, Morgan pledged, along with Assembleyman Ricardo Lara, to prevent this from happening again.

Inspired by the case of Cindi Santana, who police say was stabbed to death at school by her enraged ex- boyfriend last year in South Gate, a small city in Los Angeles County, Berschauer and other students are teaming up with Assemblyman Ricardo Lara to reduce dating abuse in California’s middle and high schools.

“Many students witnessed the attack. When Cindi died, students were heartbroken to have lost a peer and a friend,” South East High School student Liz Gomez said.

Lara’s bill would require schools to establish a dating abuse policy in their safety plans and ensure that resources are available to help students. The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence says 1-in-4 adolescents report verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse from their dating partner each year. Such violence could lead to things like with depression, poor academic achievement, and eating disorders.

“Know that we’re not going to let this issue go. We’re not going to let this issue be taken lightly in Sacramento,” Lara says. Berschauer hopes other lawmakers will join the effort. “It will make a huge difference in our community, in our schools. I hope all students will be able to feel safe when they go to school,” she says.

You can read more about the bill on ABC 30.