In Conversation With … features an interview between a leader or figure involved in public education and a representative of the Kentucky School Advocate.
Carol E. Jordan, executive director of the Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women at the University of Kentucky, worked extensively on KRS 456, a new law that creates a new category of protective orders called interpersonal protective orders (IPOs) for victims of dating abuse, sexual assault and stalking. She is also helping educate those in the justice system and schools about IPOs and their use to protect young people from violence.
Q. Could you explain the purpose of interpersonal protective orders (IPOs)?
A. If you look at the law on domestic violence orders, the requirements do not cover the majority of college and teen victims. And if you look at the highest rate of victimization per capita, it is college women, and one of the fastest-growing populations of victims is teens. We needed a protective mechanism for these populations because they didn’t fall under the current law. We did almost a copy and paste of the domestic violence protective order law and put it into a new chapter of KRS 456. We defined dating relationships, which would cover teens, high school and college students and included sexual assault and stalking. That younger population has the resource, an IPO, and can go to the courts and have the judge do whatever the case calls for to reduce the likelihood that violence will happen again.
Q. In your research, you looked at similar laws in many other states. How does Kentucky’s compare?
A. I think we ended up with the most clear and comprehensive law. It is still in the implementation stage, so it is not all smooth sailing, but I am confident that once the criminal justice system gets used to it, we will appreciate the model we came up with.
Q. How is information about the new law being shared with the schools?
A. We created resource documents, one for high schools and one for colleges, that explain the law and Title IX requirements. (http://www.uky.edu/PR/News/IPO_Resource_Document_K-12_Version.pdf)
Also, a grant from the Kentucky Bar Foundation will allow us to do training across the state.
Q. Have many IPOs been issued since the law went into effect in January?
A. We don’t have a lot of data yet. When I was doing research for the bill, I called and asked universities if they had seen a jump in women getting IPOs in the first few years after they passed a dating violence law. Every university I called – about a dozen – said no. They say IPOs only get used in the most severe cases.
Q. You have said, though, that you do hope to see IPOs being issued.
A. I do hope there is an increase because I hope that would mean victims are going to feel more comfortable getting help. The data tell us only the minority of students ever tell (that they were victimized).
Q. Could IPOs be misused or abused in some situations?
A. The courts have years of experience with domestic violence orders, and I think their skill with those will apply here. If somebody is not telling the truth, exaggerating or telling a lie, I think that will come out and the court won’t issue a protective order. And lying in court is perjury, by the way.
Q. You expect the police, court officials, advocates and other justice system officials to attend IPO training sessions. Who should attend from school districts?
A. School administrators, resource officers as well as school counselors, who would probably be the person to whom the victim would disclose. But we really welcome anyone from the schools. Because of the Kentucky Bar Foundation’s support, we don’t have to charge a fee. The more people who get the training, the easier implementation will be.
Q. How will you publicize the training programs?
A. We will ask KSBA to help get the word out to schools. We spread the one-day trainings around the state in cities that should be accessible. Trainings will be Sept. 12 in Elizabethtown, Nov. 29 in Lexington and on dates to be announced in Prestonsburg, Hopkinsville and Covington.
Q. What will the training cover?
A. It will provide a foundation about what victimization is, how big these problems are and what their impact is. There will be a discussion of Title IX, which has been thought of in regard to sports but has been extended now to relate to sexual assault or harassment. Title IX requires in cases of victimization that high schools take certain actions. There will be an overview of Title IX as it applies and what criminal law is applicable. There will also be an explanation of what an IPO is, what the new law provides, a side-by-side comparison of a domestic violence order and an IPO, and a step-by-step explanation of how the IPO process works – where you go to get an IPO, what kinds of conditions the court can apply, as well as the issue of the law as it applies to minors – whether they can apply for a protective order or if the offender is a minor, whether they can be served by law enforcement.
Q. How is this law being applied to minors?
A. We have gotten legal opinions, and our point of view, based on those, is that victims who are minors can request a protective order on their own and offenders who are minors can be served.
Q. Must schools provide counseling to students?
A. No, that is not part of the law. The courts can order the offender into treatment or counseling. It is my hope that school counselors will get training about victimization and become aware of the resources in their community.
Q. Are schools worried about meeting the requirements of IPOs, especially as they apply to keeping an offender away from the victim?
A. When we were working on the bill we were able to strengthen it because lobbyists for KSBA and school administrators came to us and expressed concern. They said, “If there is one school in our county, you can’t say he has to stay 1,000 feet from her because statutorily we have to provide education for him.” We worked together on the bill’s language so now a judge is required to ask where the student goes to school. The statute says the judge needs to adapt the order to provide maximum protection for the victim while not impairing administration of education for the offending student. Schools likely have a lot of experience dealing with disciplinary cases so what they do in those cases will be similar to these.
Q. Can resource officers enforce an IPO?
A. Yes, as long as they are considered law enforcement, they can enforce and make arrests in these cases.
Q. What are the major challenges IPOs pose for schools?
A. One challenge is that it is so new. For the criminal justice system, IPOs are not going to feel new because they are so much like domestic violence orders. But schools do need to come up with a protocol so that they know that a student has a protective order. That might be through education that lets students know that IPOs exist and that they should let the schools know if they have one. It is also possible that if the student who is victimized first reports it to someone at school, there will be that linkage. I would hope parents would call the school and ensure that the school knows that their child has an IPO.
Q. So courts don’t contact schools when an IPO is issued?
A. No, they are not required to, in the same way now that schools do not necessarily know if a juvenile is involved in another type of case in the court system.
Q. Your research of college women has shown that those who are victimized suffer in many ways. Not only is their mental, emotional and physical health negatively affected, their ability to learn is also impacted.
A. Our research found that 40 percent of young high school women who were accepted to UK had had a victimization experience and that those who had been victimized had a lower GPA in high school than did the women who had not been victimized.
Q. What are some other benefits you believe IPOs will bring?
A. We feel they will help prevent victimization. We have to remember in these cases most often the offender is also a student. Treating a 35-year-old man who has been abusive since high school is much more difficult than it would be if he had been treated at age 17 or 18.
Q. Are most victims women?
A. Yes, most victims are, but in colleges especially, we are seeing men being victimized by other men or groups of men. And as tough as it is for women to tell, it is 10 times tougher for men; because they get ridiculed.
Q. What are messages schools should communicate to students about IPOs and how can they communicate them?
A. It is very important that they talk to their students about it. In the college setting, only about 5 percent of the time do victims report they have been assaulted. Schools need to tell students we can assist you, be sensitive to your needs and protect you. Having a student leadership group communicate to students would be great. There’s also Green Dot, a sexual assault prevention program that has been implemented in many schools in Kentucky. Research shows that rates of victimization are declining in schools that have the Green Dot program.