Violence Prevention and Education Bill Dies;
Resolution Poised for Passage
The overwhelming majority of Hawaii's citizens have identified crime as a serious problem in our community. In a 1994 crime victimization survey conducted by the state Attorney General, 11.4 percent of respondents reported being victims of a violent crime in 1993. The survey found that 2.2 percent of female respondents reported that they had been raped and 1.1 percent were the victim of unwanted sexual activity. In 1994, over 3,000 domestic abusers were arrested in Honolulu. In a 1993 study conducted by the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, an estimated 20 percent of women in Hawaii between the ages of 18 and 64 reported having been abused by their partner. While violent crime continues to increase in our community, there is growing evidence to suggest that we can reduce violence in our homes, schools and communities through early violence prevention education.
The cost of violent crime is much more costly than violence prevention and education programs. Although current violence prevention efforts through county police departments, community agencies and the Department of Education (DOE) are excellent, these efforts only reach some students, in some schools. Funding for primary prevention services through the state has significantly decreased over the past few years. Violence is so insidious and pervasive that it requires primary prevention strategies, education of all students through curricula integration, as well as specialized programs supporting youth at risk. The integration of violence prevention life skills in public schools is a cost effective approach to reducing violence.
During the 1995 legislative session the League joined with members of the Women's Coalition violence prevention subcommittee in drafting a violence prevention bill. The coalition, an organization made up of more than 56 individuals and organizations, meets yearly to develop legislative proposals on women's issues. These proposals are forwarded to the Women's Caucus of Legislators for its consideration and possible inclusion in its legislative package.
The violence prevention and education bills, HB 1009 and SB 1043, required the DOE to expand its current limited violence prevention programs in order to provide an integrated violence prevention curricula in public schools for all children from grades K through 12. In addition, the bill also provided that violence prevention courses be developed to train teachers, school administrators, parents/guardians and future teachers graduating from the University of Hawaii College of Education.
Despite the fact that the Senate bill received supporting testimony from more than 24 individuals and organizations and more than 2,000 UH faculty and students signed petitions expressing their support, the bill was killed by the Senate Ways and Means committee. The House Bill was never scheduled for a hearing.
However, the Women's Coalition violence prevention subcommittee and the Women's Caucus of Legislators proposed a resolution to address violence in our community. The resolution proposed creation of an advisory council of agencies concerned with violence prevention. The council would provide a report to the legislature documenting the forms of violence prevention curricula that currently exist in Hawaii's schools, and identifying creative public-private partnerships that are committed to violence prevention education. A final conference draft of the resolution is expected to pass the House and Senate. The coalition expects to submit a new bill on violence prevention for consideration during the 1996 legislative session. For more information on these efforts call Martha Ross, executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women at 586-5757.
Pamela Ferguson-Brey, Chair
Human Resources Committee