Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Editorials

February 26, 2014

We must protect against dating violence

Feb. 26, 2014 — We were encouraged when the leadership of the Kentucky House of Representatives came forward last month with House Bill 8 to amend the domestic violence protection laws to shield unmarried individuals in dating relationships.

However, that noble effort was derailed – at least temporarily – when a House member offered floor amendments to change the original bill by adding totally unrelated language involving abortions.

As now written, KRS 403 empowers judges to issue emergency protective orders (EPO) to shield marriage partners or unwed couples living together or those who have had a child together.

House Bill 8 would extend that protection to unmarried individuals who are dating currently or have dated within the last three years.

The intent, of course, is to protect such individuals, primarily those of high school and college age, from domestic violence and abuse, defined as physical injury, sexual abuse, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical injury, sexual abuse, or assault.

The bill defines "dating relationship" as a relationship between individuals who have or have had a relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.

Interestingly, the proposed law does not cover violence in a casual acquaintanceship or violence between individuals who only have engaged in ordinary fraternization in a business or social context.

In a situation involving students in the same school, the proposed revision would allow a judge to impose conditions of the EPO that cause the least disruption at the affected school while protecting the individual believed to be in danger.

First and foremost, we believe that the life and health of a man or woman, young or older, in a dating relationship should be just as valued as those of spouses and unwed couples.

In our view, this issue is far too important to be delayed by grandstanding tactics of misguided individuals.

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