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University of Florida gets headstart on domestic violence report

When Floridians consider domestic violence, they may not immediately think of a college campus setting. But college students are as susceptible to domestic violence issues as anyone else, and may be more at risk for some specific behavior, such as stalking. The federal Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act will begin requiring reports about domestic violence situations on campus from universities that accept federal funding, but the University of Florida got a head start by issuing reports for 2013.

Colleges were already required to file reports listing certain crimes and activities. Previous reports had to include the number of reported burglaries, arsons, aggravated assaults, manslaughters, homicides and rapes. Additional legislation is now requiring schools to add dating violence, stalking and domestic violence to the reports.

For 2013, the University of Florida reported three dating violence incidents. It also reported 20 domestic violence and 13 stalking cases. The reports come from the campus police department, so they may not include all incidences of such activity, as many incidences go unreported each year.

The new legislation doesn't just require reporting. Campuses must adopt new procedures for student discipline and additional policies that address issues such as sexual violence. The new requirements don't take effect until July 2015, but many universities are working to implement the changes now to ensure compliance in the future.

Students who experience domestic violence in a campus setting have a number of resources both on and off campus for assistance. One resource is the law: Legal channels for dealing with domestic violence can include things such as divorce and protective orders. Speaking with someone about options is a first step toward freedom from an abusive situation.

Source: The Daytona Beach News-Journal, "UF now keeps closer eye on stalking, domestic violence" Jeff Schweers, Nov. 16, 2014

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