Grand Prairie assistant chief Ronnie Morris, who drafted the Christine Blubaugh Act, called on Greg Abbott to place the bill mandating education on family and dating violence prevention in the special session the Texas governor is convening this summer.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) vetoed Senate Bill 1109 last Friday after it was approved with bipartisan support in both the Texas House and Senate.
Named after Christine Blubaugh, a Grand Prairie teen killed 21 years ago by her ex-boyfriend, the bill would have required Texas middle and high schoolers to learn about preventing family and dating violence as well as child abuse.
"These are important subjects," Abbott wrote in his veto legislation. "But the bill fails to recognize the right of parents to opt their children out of the instruction."
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Morris said the bill would provide for an "opt-out" for parents if Abbott places it on the agenda for the special session.
"Though I understand the Governor’s desire for parents to have the option to opt their children out of this education, the majority of violence children are subjected to occurs in the child’s own home or by people they know," Morris said in a statement to NBC 5. "Be that as it may, my desire and commitment is to work with the Governor to ensure our kids get this vital, lifesaving, education starting this next school year, including providing for an “opt out” for parents."
The bill would have mandated instruction at least once in middle school and at least twice in high school, adding up to a total of four to six hours over several years.
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Required lessons would have taught about the prevalence of dating violence and the recognition of abuse warning signs as well as procedures for reporting violence and abuse and available resources to students.
Morris said statistics show over 80% of parents are not having discussions about dating violence or domestic violence with their kids and that one in three teenagers are involved in an abusive relationship.
State. Sen Royce West (D-Dallas), was the legislative author of the bill, which was approved with bipartisan support, passing 29-2 in the Senate and 99-48 in the House.
“Young love is supposed to be beautiful,” West said in a statement. “Young love isn’t supposed to hurt and no it isn’t supposed to kill, but unfortunately it does.”
Morris also told NBC 5 he plans to pursue the legislation regardless of whether Abbott introduces it in the special session.
"I will continue to pursue this legislation every single legislative session until kids in Texas are protected," Morris said. "My job as a police officer is not to just respond and deal with the aftermath of child victims, but also to try and prevent this violence from occurring."
The Grand Prairie police officer said he still thinks about Blubaugh's case 21 years later.
After police said her ex-boyfriend shot them both in a murder-suicide, friends reported a pattern of abuse.
Morris said many have told him if they knew then what they know now, they would’ve reported issues between Blubaugh and her boyfriend to adults, which is what he had in mind while he drafted the bill.
"The bill, had it become law, would have provided Texas kids with the tools they would need to protect themselves if they were to tragically become involved in an abusive relationship (dating/domestic violence and child abuse), and the resources to escape," Morris said.