Fiona Ma for State Assembly

Fiona Ma Targets Domestic Violence Among Teens

What we know about the 2009 gang rape of a Richmond High School student at prom is that it's not an isolated event. Domestic violence among teens is on the rise, and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) is attempting to draw attention to this disturbing trend.

Ma has called for a hearing on the issue on Wednesday at the state capitol.

"Sadly, [teen domestic violence] is on the rise throughout the nation," says Amber Stott, director of community relations at WEAVE, a non-profit for domestic violence survivors in Sacramento.

WEAVE's director, Beth Hassett, will speak to this issue at the hearing Wednesday. "We're seeing more of it now because people are becoming more aware of what it is and coming forward and talking about it."

"If kids are living in a violent home, and see that's what a relationship is, they repeat that sort of behavior in their relationship," she said.

UC-Davis Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Elizabeth Miller published a study last year that showed physical and verbal abuse is often accompanied by sabotaging a girl's birth control or coercing pregnancy.

Stott says there are solutions to change teen boys' attitude and behaviors. A program known as Coaching Boys Into Men, in which athletic coaches advise their male athletes to stop violence, is currently being implemented in 16 Sacramento schools. "It's working," Stott says. "Just preliminary data shows boys are more likely to intervene if they go through this training."

A representative of the coaching program and a male student who's participated in it will also be talking at Wednesday's hearing.  Ma is the chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Domestic Violence, which will hold the hearing at 1:30 p.m. in the capitol building, room 447.