Ohio is one of ten states to receive failing grade for teen dating laws

April 23rd, 2009

Rihanna and Chris Brown may have been the most recently publicized case, but they certainly won’t be the last chapter in the story of teen dating violence.

With numerous cases of domestic violence across all 50 states and the Rihanna and Chris Brown debacle still relatively present in the news, reports have surfaced on each state’s treatment of victims of teenage dating violence.

Break the Cycle, a youth organization based in Los Angeles, Calif. released an annual “State-by-State Teen Dating Violence Report Card,” grading each state’s laws on how well they protect teen victims of dating violence.

Ohio, as well as ten other states, received an ‘F.’

“Break the Cycle’s mission is to engage, educate and empower youth to build lives and communities free from domestic violence,” said Colleen Gallopin, the policy and technical assistance manager for Break the Cycle. “We do this by educating youth, encouraging youth activism and advocating for systemic change.”

The first State-by-State Teen Dating Report Card was released in 2008 and updated in March of 2009.

According to Gallopin, the purpose of the report cards is to educate advocates, lawmakers and the public about how their state’s laws treat teen victims of dating violence.

John Carroll University sophomore Patrick Straffin said, “It’s a good resource, and it’s especially important for young people to have a central location to go to in order to find easy-to-read information like these report cards.”

Comparing Ohio’s protection order laws to a state such as Illinois, which received an ‘A,’ shows a drastic and clear difference between the two.

Illinois law allows teenagers to obtain a protection order if they are dating or previously dated the abuser. Whereas in Ohio, the abuser must be someone they are married to or were married to.

In Illinois, a victim can go to court and file for an emergency protection order if he or she qualifies, however in Ohio the victim can go to court to file for a temporary protection order.

“Depending on each state, a victim can receive a temporary protection order on the same day he or she goes to court, assuming he or she qualifies,” said Gallopin. “But those orders only last a short period of time, until the victim goes back to court for a hearing that determines whether he or she gets a final protection order.”

In Illinois, if an individual is younger than 18, he or she can have any adult file a protection order for them, and the protection order cannot be denied because the person seeking the order is a minor.

In Ohio, the minor must have a parent or a household member file the protection order, and there’s no law stating that the order cannot be denied to a minor.

“We have had several states contact us to tell us that they are committed to changing their states’ laws and asking for information on how to do that and what changes to make,” said Gallopin.

Still, Break the Cycle will continue to update its report cards yearly in the hope that states will improve laws concerning teen dating violence.

“It’s our hope that the report card is used by advocates as a tool to get lawmakers to change laws that are not friendly to teen victims,” said Gallopin.