Junior high friends take dating violence fight to Capitol

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It has been more than a decade since Reagan High School student Ortralla Mosley, 15, was stabbed to death in a school hallway by her former boyfriend. School administrators immediately said it was the result of domestic violence. The murder prompted Texas lawmakers to pass a law requiring high schools to teach about dating violence.

A group of junior high girls from Tyler ran across the law, HB 121, when doing research for a school project. What the students found out surprised them: many schools aren’t following the law.

Seeing the need for more exposure, the teens teamed up with the Texas Advocacy Project to put together a public service announcement about teen dating violence, and they came to the state Capitol this week to push for legislation to create more education for students around the issue.

“We realized that it’s not always physical abuse,” said Ashlyn Ellglass, an 8th grader at Lindale ISD. “Most of the time it’s mental abuse the younger you are.”

After talking to their own peers, the students also think schools need to start talking about teen dating violence as early as 5th grade.

“Some of them have asked for help, another friend asked me for a list of things to look for,” said Ellglass.

Rep. Dawnna Dukes (District 46, D-Austin) is preparing to request the legislature create a stakeholder task force with a goal of providing recommendations designed to improve campus safety and provide awareness education to Texas’ youth on healthy relationships and dating violence.

What school districts are doing

Pflugerville ISD says they always highlight healthy relationships this time of year because February is teen dating violence awareness month. They have also extended the activities to middle school in the past.

When it comes to Austin ISD, the district teams up with SafePlace to offer education in the classroom.

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