With new protective orders now available advocates are releasing guidelines for schools and universities

03/17/2016 08:31 AM

FRANKFORT — With the passage of House Bill 8 in the 2015 session Kentucky became the last state in the nation to offer protective orders for victims of dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

As the state embarks on “something very new” advocates are issuing guidelines in an effort to raise awareness of the interpersonal protective orders.

The University of Kentucky Office of Policy Studies on Violence Against Women and the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence released guidelines for schools and universities to access and implement new protective orders. Even though the law was passed last year the protective orders became active on Jan. 1 2016 after giving courts time to implement the changes.

“We feel like one of the places we needed to go was schools, because that’s a group that who will not have seen protective orders previously,” said Carol Jordan the Executive Director of the University of Kentucky Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women in the College of Arts & Science. “University police may have seen that with respect to employees who have domestic violence orders, but with respect to their students, and certainly in high schools, with respect to their students they will have not seen the use of protective orders because they didn’t exist for that population before.”

Jordan and Meg Savage with the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence said the state has already seen cases of teenagers taking out protective orders.

“I have heard of at least one situation where the two individuals involved were both 14, so that’s probably middle school age,” Savage said. “As far as what I heard from law enforcement — there was actually abuse going on in that relationship.”

The state and the courts have not been accustomed to dealing with minors seeking protective orders for abuse in a dating relationships until this point and the changes come with lots of questions from schools.

Kentucky’s law does not have an age stipulation out of recognition that whether in middle school, high school or college abuse does go on. And the law is a recognition of the need to stop the victimization from happening, the advocates said.

“We do not have an age within our statute,” Jordan said. “If you meet the definition of dating relationship or if you meet the definition of sexual assault or stalking then you’re going to be able to get one of these protective orders — if you show the court what you need to be able to show the court.”

Since Kentucky is the last state in the nation to pass protective orders for people in dating relationships, Savage said schools are able to check guidelines and model policies put in place from other states who have been through the same transition.

“We’re really hopeful that schools start thinking about this proactively before that first student walks into the door with an IPO and then everyone is scrambling to try to figure out what do we do with this,” Savage said. “We recognize that in 120 counties in Kentucky the huge majority of those counties only have one high school. A lot of them have only one middle school, so it’s not a situation where the perpetrator of the violence has to be kicked out of school or wont get an education.”

Savage said the court would take into consideration all the variables, but at the end of the day schools would be responsible for rearranging schedules and maximizing protection for the students.

Resource documents for colleges and universities are available here. Documents for K-12 schools are available here.

Watch more of the interview with Savage and Jordan below.


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