A new bill has been introduced in the state Assembly and Senate that would require New York state schools to add dating-violence education to their health curriculum.

The measure was prompted by the July 2008 murder of 18-year-old Kari Ann Gorman of Wilson. Gorman was shot and killed by her boyfriend of eight months.

Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Lewiston, and state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, introduced the legislation Friday at the YWCA of Niagara on Cottage Street.

“It’s critical that young men and women learn early on what is and is not acceptable behavior when dating, so they can learn important life-long lessons when it comes to relationships. They need a trustworthy resource for this potentially life-saving information,” DelMonte said. She said she introduced the Kari Ann Gorman Act “to teach young people what they need to know in order to stay safe and to spare other families the senseless tragedy that Kari’s family is suffering.”

Maziarz called the legislation “an opportunity to turn the horrible tragedy that befell Kari into something positive.”

“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,” he said.

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 killed by her boyfriend in 2005.

A news release by Maziarz and DelMonte said 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 and 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 bill.

Recommended for you