Monday October 6, 2008
A new law in Rhode Island requires that all public middle and high schools teach students about the signs and dangers of dating violence in their health classes. The law is named the Lindsay Ann Burke Act after a 23-year-old who died as a result of being involved in an abusive relationship.
Texas is the only other state that has a similar law on the books.
“If this could happen to her, this could happen to anyone,” said Ann Burke, mother of Lindsay and a health teacher. She and her husband Chris lobbied for the new law and set up a memorial fund to raise money for dating violence workshops for parents and educators.
The law is aimed at teaching teens “the warning signs of abusive relationships and broach the subject head-on so victims feel empowered to get help and leave violent partners,” Burke said. The program focuses on nurturing good relationships as well as avoiding abusive ones.
Victims of Domestic Violence
Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch also helped push the new law through the legislature. She said her office receives about 5,000 cases a year that involve domestic violence.
“You teach sex ed, you teach ‘don’t do drugs,’ you teach ‘don’t drink,’ you should also be teaching ‘don’t be a victim of domestic violence,’” Lynch told reporters.
More states may begin adopting policies like Rhode Island’s after members of the National Association of Attorneys General unanimously adopting a resolution encouraging the domestic violence education.
The Death of Lindsay Burke
Lindsay Burke began a relationship with Gerardo Martinez after they met at a wedding. At first he seemed respectful and nice, but eventually he began exerting more and more control over her, including text messaging her excessively.
To get away from Martinez, Lindsay moved out of her parents’ home in moved into her brother’s house. In September 2005, her mother became concerned when Lindsay stopped answering her phone. Police later found Lindsay in the bathtub of Martinez’s home with her throat cut.
In 2007, Martinez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.
By Victor Swindell, owner of PepperEyes.com, a division of Swindell Enterprises. PepperEyes.com is dedicated to assist those people who are unwilling to become a victim and are taking responsibility to protect themselves, their cars, or their possessions with our pepper spray, stun guns, and other personal protection products.