A http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/A3000/2920_R1.PDF">bill has been introduced in the state Legislature that would require school districts to incorporate dating violence education into the health education curriculum.
It would also require the state Department of Education to form a task force to address and prevent dating violence, and would require every school district in the state to develop a policy to address and prevent dating violence at school.
The bill passed the Assembly Education Committee last week and has bipartisan support because who wouldn't be opposed to dating violence.
But lost in all the good intentions is the fact that almost all of the provisions in the bill are already required - and have been for years.
The state Department of Education Core Curriculum Standards for Health and Physical Education already address dating violence in the "Human Relationships and Sexuality" section for both middle school and high school students.
The bill would require the DOE to develop dating violence materials and set up a task force to develop the dating violence policy.
State law passed in 2002 already requires every school district to have a Harrassment, Intimidation and Bullying policy, which would certainly seem to include dating violence.
The new bill has not yet come up for a vote before the full Assembly, and a Senate version is still in committee. In these times when the focus is on scaling back government and reducing redundant state mandates, it wouldn't hurt to require that every new bill, no matter how well meaning, show that it is not duplicative of something that already exists.
Another proposed state resolution would required February to be designated as http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/AJR/40_I1.PDF">Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month. That might be an alternative that would give schools and social service groups the opportunity to raise the profile of the issue without creating new laws.