Parents of Murdered Dating Violence Victims, Advocates and Legislators Unite To Fight For Education To Prevent Dating Violence

National coalition responds to recent tragic death of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love and urges parents to push for teen dating violence education legislation

New York, NY – May 5, 2010 – Today, advocates for teen dating violence education are calling on parents nationwide to take action and urge potentially life-saving legislation mandating teen dating violence education be required in their states. The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline,, Seventeen Magazine and the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) are joining forces through Liz Claiborne Inc.’s ‘MADE’ — Moms and Dads for Education to Stop Teen Dating Abuse — to ensure that every middle school and high school in every state across the country teach a curriculum about preventing dating relationship violence and abuse each year.

Currently, only four states, Rhode Island, Texas, Ohio and Nebraska, have passed strong laws requiring school districts to have a dating violence policy to address incidents of dating violence at school. Just last week, Florida legislation successfully passed that calls for teen dating violence education to be included in health curriculum for 7th-12th graders and for school district boards to adopt and implement teen dating violence policies.  Legislation is pending in ten additional states where NFWL’s women legislators and MADE advocates have been working together, but only a handful of those legislative bills are considered comprehensive, mandating updated curriculums and teen dating violence education policies.

Across the country, parents who have tragically lost their children to dating violence are making their voices heard and pushing for legislation which has been stalled or has not even been introduced in their states. Ann and Chris Burke, educators and parents of Lindsay Ann Burke who was murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend, spearheaded efforts in Rhode Island to pass the “Lindsay Ann Burke Act.” Gary Cuccia in Pennsylvania is actively fighting for the “Demi Brae Cuccia Act” which is awaiting a vote in the Senate and Bill and Michele Mitchell in Maryland have been working tirelessly to strengthen the policies in House Bill 845, “Tween and Teen Dating Violence Education.” Women legislators are supporting these parents.

“It is time for all parents to make the commitment and address teen dating violence as a serious health issue,” said Ann Burke.  “I want to show all parents and teachers that having legislation passed is possible. I want to see teens in all 50 states educated on this issue.”

“Education is the key to preventing teen dating violence,” said Sheryl Cates, CEO of loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. “Parents, friends and family members need to be aware of the warning signs of an abusive dating relationship and know where to turn for resources and help before the violence escalates to a fatal incident. Controlling behavior, verbal and emotional abuse, threatening texts and emails, isolation, hitting, pushing and slapping are all warning signs of a troubled relationship.”

“It is only through education and awareness that we will be able to combat teen dating violence and our elected women who have introduced bills are 100% committed to fighting for strong and effective legislation that will protect the teens and tweens they serve and honor the memories of the young victims who had no idea what teen dating violence was before they lost their lives to it,” stated Robin Read, NFWL’s President and CEO.

“Our recent survey shows that although 75% of teens who have been taught about dating abuse say it has helped them recognize the signs of abuse, only a quarter of the teens have ever taken an actual course,” said Jane Randel, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications for Liz Claiborne Inc. “In the wake of so many recent tragedies, it is becoming increasingly clear that something needs to be done – and that something is education. Curricula, such as Love Is Not Abuse, teach young adults to recognize the signs of abuse and how to seek help – whether they are victims themselves or watching someone else suffer. Teaching these lessons in our schools will save lives.”

“The statistics of girls in abusive relationships are shocking: 23% of our readers have dated a guy who has made them feel afraid, and 70% of girls say that they wouldn’t break up with an abusive boyfriend if they loved him,” said Ann Shoket, Editor-in-Chief, Seventeen Magazine. “Yeardley’s tragic death should be a wake up call to all girls that they need to learn how to recognize the warning signs of a dangerous relationship before they get hurt.” A few warning signs include, he gets angry when guys give you attention or when you want to do things without him; he says it’s your fault when he says hurtful things to you and he tries to control where you go, or what you wear or do.
About Loveisrespect
National Domestic Violence Hotline launched loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline in 2007, to serve as a source of support and resources for teens involved in dating abuse relationships, their peers, parents, teachers, and friends. loveisrespect offers new and innovative services to teens across the country who are experiencing dating abuse and those who are looking to engage in healthy relationships by utilizing technologies that teens use most often: the telephone, web, and chat. Young men and women can anonymously contact trained peer-to-peer advocates by telephone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. at 1-866-331-9474 or to chat (IM style).

About the National Foundation For Women Legislators, Inc. (NFWL)
Through annual educational and networking events, the National Foundation for Women Legislators supports women legislators from all levels of governance.   As a non-profit, non-partisan organization, NFWL does not take ideological positions on public policy issues, but rather serves as a forum for women legislators to be empowered through information and experience.

About Liz Claiborne Inc.
Since 1991 Liz Claiborne Inc has been working to end domestic violence. Through its Love Is Not Abuse program, the company provides information and tools that men, women, teens and corporate executives can use to learn more about the issue and find out how they can help end this epidemic.

Seventeen ( is the best-selling monthly teen magazine, reaching more than 13 million readers every month. In each issue, Seventeen reports on the latest in fashion, beauty, health and entertainment, as well as information and advice on the complex real-life issues that young women face every day. Readers can also interact with the brand on the digital front, with Seventeen mobile ( In addition to its U.S. flagship, Seventeen publishes 13 editions around the world. Seventeen is published by Hearst Magazines, a unit of Hearst Corporation ( and one of the world’s largest publishers of monthly magazines, with nearly 200 editions around the world, including 15 U.S. titles and 20 magazines in the United Kingdom, published through its wholly owned subsidiary, The National Magazine Company Limited. Hearst Magazines is the leading publisher of monthly magazines in the U.S. in terms of total circulation (ABC, Dec. 2009) and reaches 73 million adults (MRI, Fall 2009).

Susan Risdon
Tel: (512) 492-2405