George D. Maziarz

Senator George Maziarz has introduced legislation requiring that New York State schools add dating-violence education to their health curriculum (A.819/S.2537). The measure was prompted by the July 2008 murder of 18-year-old Kari Ann Gorman of Wilson, N.Y. Gorman was shot and killed by her boyfriend of eight months.

“This legislation is an opportunity to turn the horrible tragedy that befell Kari into something positive,” Senator Maziarz said. “With a greater emphasis on dating violence education in place in our schools, hopefully we can save lives as teenagers learn to interact with one another in a health way.”

The legislation is based on a 2007 Rhode Island law mandating that state schools provide dating-violence education in their health curriculum for students in grades 7 to 12. That law came as the result of the murder of Lindsay Ann Burke, 23, who was murdered by her boyfriend in 2005.

Dating violence includes situations where a person uses physical, sexual, verbal or emotional abuse to control his or her dating partner. It also includes harassment via e-mail, texting or Instant Messaging. Statistics show that 1 in 3 teenagers has experienced violence in a dating relationship. Dating violence crosses all racial, economic and social lines. Most victims are young women, who are also at greater risk for serious injury.

The advocacy group Legal Momentum, as well as the National Federation of Women Legislators, have voiced their support of the legislation.

“We are extremely motivated to get this bill passed and signed into law,” Senator Maziarz said. “This is not a partisan issue, this is not an upstate-downstate issue – all our young people will benefit from this kind of education.”