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Letter to Representative Reichert Supporting his Amendment to CJS Appropriations to Fund the STEP program (Resources for Schools to Help Students in Abusive Relationships)

June 17, 2009

Dear Representative Reichert:


On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to express our support for your amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill that would provide $2.5 million for the Office of Violence against Women’s Supporting Teens Through Education and Protection (STEP) program.

Far too many middle and high-school students are at risk of interpersonal violence and other forms of sexual assault.  In fact, nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.  Unfortunately, young people have little information or guidance on what to expect in relationships and how to treat their partners respectfully.

Educators play important roles in helping students navigate these complex issues, but, many school personnel lack the knowledge or resources to address these issues effectively.  By providing funding for the STEP program, your amendment would help ensure that educators are adequately prepared to help students facing violent relationships.  Specifically, the funding will help schools form partnerships with local domestic violence service providers and law enforcement agencies to provide training, secure referrals for students in need, and develop school policies that foster safe, appropriate responses for affected students.

We thank you for your leadership on this very important issue.


Sincerely,

Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy