Pace Women’s Justice Center Starts Education Program for Dating Violence

To help reduce dating violence, the Pace Women’s Justice Center (WJC) has started training boys at a number of all-boys schools, including Iona Prep., Fordham Prep., and Mount Saint Michael Academy, which are all located in New York’s Westchester County and the New York City borough of the Bronx.


Contact: Mary E. Horgan, Pace Public Information, 914-923-2798,
Jennifer Riekert, Pace Law School Public Information, 914-422-4128,

Recruiting the next generation of male anti-violence crusaders


(Note: Training days are scheduled at Iona Prep Nov. 18-25)

WHITE PLAINS, NY – November 13, 2003 — To help reduce dating violence, the Pace Women’s Justice Center (WJC) has started training boys at a number of all-boys schools, including Iona Prep., Fordham Prep., and Mount Saint Michael Academy, which are all located in New York’s Westchester County and the New York City borough of the Bronx.

“There is an epidemic of violence in our culture today,” says Victoria L. Lutz, the former Westchester senior district attorney who is the WJC executive director. She says “rates of violence in dating relationships among high school students have been measured at between nine and 41 percent. Among high school girls surveyed from ages 14 to 18, about 20 percent reported that they had been hit, slapped, shoved, or forced into sexual activity by a dating partner.”

She hopes that the insights gained by the students through participation at these programs will help the boys to learn about and prevent not only emotional, psychological and physical abuse, but also the sexual molestation and violent hazing in high schools that recently have been in the news.

“This is a male problem and it needs a male solution,” she adds.

“Teaching young boys about the jeopardy for those who are involved with or exposed to violent behavior is a way to combat dating violence and domestic violence among teens,” she says. “We know how much peer pressure impacts teenagers’ behavior, so we teach peer educators who teach their buddies.”

“This is the only program of its kind that I know of in the United States,” says Lutz. What makes the program unique is that there are four tiers to each school’s educational process. After the peer educators are trained, attorneys from the WJC provide an in-service program for the staff, at which they address both the dynamics of domestic violence and systemic policy issues and written protocols on this topic. Parents are the next group to be invited to a program, after which their children receive peer education in an inter-active, multi-media format.

Defining the rules. The first phase of the boys’ peer training began in August when 11 students, representing each of the schools, attended a three-day training seminar at the Pace University School of Law. The boys were selected for their leadership ability and interest. Each student peer educator will receive a stipend of $200 on his successful completion of the program.

The training began a process in which the WJC, along with these peer educators, will help their fellow students define the rules of dating, what qualifies as statutory rape, date rape, dating violence, stalking and other unacceptable dating behavior. The boys also are being taught how and why orders of protection are sought, what they do for the victim and to the predator, and the ins and outs of other related court procedures. Throughout the training the boys participate in role playing, group problem solving, interactive dialogue, and videotape instruction as well as lectures from lawyers, who are always a presence at the dating violence classes.

Foundation funding. A grant of $15,000 from the Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Inc., of White Plains, funds the training program. Lutz is hopeful that this will only be a pilot program and that the peer training will expand to public schools and private girls’ schools throughout Westchester County, the Bronx and beyond. Already she has received requests from other high schools to duplicate the program for them.

The Pace Women’s Justice Center pioneered 24/7 legal services to battered women nationally. Staff attorneys carry beepers so they can be reached around the clock.

The Center has emerged as the leader in first response legal services for battered women by partnering with the White Plains Department of Public Safety and other Westchester police departments so victims of domestic violence can receive legal services when they need them most, even at 2 o’clock in the morning.

The WJC represents over 1,500 battered women and their children a year in family court. Since 1999, law students have contributed over 10,000 hours of free legal assistance, which have helped garner more than $2,000,000 in child support for victims of family violence.

In addition to representing over 4,000 victims of domestic violence in the last four years, the Center annually conducts more than 100 training programs in preventing and dealing with domestic violence, elder abuse, sexual assaults, and other problems, for thousands of judges, law enforcement officers, attorneys and law students. It has produced public service announcements for the federal Violence Against Women Office, written judicial training manuals, and published dozens of articles.

Part of the Pace University School of Law, the WJC recently was given the Governor’s 2003 Justice, Freedom, and Courage Award to End Domestic Violence.

Pace is a comprehensive, independent university committed to opportunity, teaching and learning, civic involvement and measurable outcomes. It has campuses in New York City and Pleasantville, Briarcliff and White Plains, N.Y., and a Hudson Valley Center at Stewart International Airport near Newburgh, N.Y. More than 14,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lubin School of Business, School of Computer Science and Information Systems, School of Education, Lienhard School of Nursing and Pace Law School.

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