The Los Angeles Unified School District is reevaluating teen dating violence prevention in the wake of the tragic death of South East High student Cindi Santana on September 30 of this year.
Santana was allegedly stabbed and beaten by ex-boyfriend Abraham Lopez during lunchtime in the courtyard of South East High, and she died of her wounds at a nearby hospital. Before the incident, Santana's mother had warned the school about Lopez; specifically, that the young man had previously been arrested and then released after threatening Santana.As we noted, at least a few students expressed some troubling opinions blaming the victim for her own death:
Although grief counselors and increased security measures were brought to South East High School in the wake of this tragedy, it appears that broader efforts are needed to educate students about abusive relationships. Students are speaking out on a Facebook page dedicated to Cindi. Posts range from sadness and confusion to misplaced blame -- one student even wrote, "She got STABBED FOR BEING A CHEATER!!!!!"
The LAUSD has taken note of the warning signs, reports CBS Los Angeles. At a board meeting Tuesday, the school district's board passed an anti-violence initiative to address teen dating violence and abuse.
Superintendent John Deasy will appoint a Prevention Coordinator and a Prevention Liaison to every school who will work with students, teachers, and parents on abuse education and intervention techniques, reports NBC 4.
The program will cost an estimated $2 million dollars and board members are currently working on fundraising, reports ABC 7 Los Angeles.
In a press conference announcing the initiative, board member Steve Zimmer expressed the hope that these new programs would prevent another tragedy from happening again. Intersection South LA quotes Zimmer: "policy is not consolation, and policy can’t reverse the tragedy, but what we’re trying to do today is make sure that anywhere in this district, when someone comes forward, or a family comes over, that school will have the resources to make sure this never happens again.”
ABC 7 Los Angeles also notes that Zimmer directly addressed the county's young people: "to students out there who today feel afraid, uncomfortable, insecure, know that something is just not right, please say something. Don't be silent."
Shortly after the hearing, hundreds attended a memorial service was held Tuesday to honor Santana. Her aunt described her as a "sweet girl who had a smile that would light up anyplace," reports KTLA.
For more information on Cindi Santana and memorial donations, please reference Facebook.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-866-331-9474 or text "loveis" to 77054 for the National Dating Abuse Helpline.