logo1New data from the Kentucky Health Issues Poll released this week by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky shows 80 percent of voters support extending protective orders to people in dating relationships. Men and women; Democrats, Republicans, and Independents; and voters in all regions of the state support allowing dating partners to get protective orders.

The strong support among voters reinforces the bipartisan support that has emerged on the issue from policymakers. Senator Whitney Westerfield – the Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary committee—and Representative John Tilley—the Democratic chair of the House Judiciary committee—have been working to craft a bipartisan proposal to present during the 2015 legislative session. Governor Steve Beshear, First Lady Jane Beshear, Senate President Robert Stivers, and House Speaker Greg Stumbo have all weighed in on the issue and expect a bipartisan bill can pass this session on these important protections.

This issue is among the legislative priorities of the 2015 Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children, because of the protections it would offer to Kentucky children. Under current law, children of victims who experience dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking can’t receive the protection of a protective order. Children who witness domestic violence are at increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, higher levels of aggression, and poor school performance. We can protect children from these negative experiences by keeping their parents safe.

Additionally, teens who experience dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking cannot currently seek protective orders. This is true despite a recent survey of Kentucky high school students finding nearly one in ten had experienced physical dating violence within the past year, and one in ten experienced sexual dating violence.

Protective orders offer a cost-effective solution that can offer protection to victims of dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Thanks to Kentucky’s political leaders for recognizing the need to close the gap in protection. Kentucky voters agree it’s time to extend protections!