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Preventing dating violence

Seventy percent of women and girls who are murdered are killed by their boyfriends and husbands.

That was just one of the statistics Mary Krueger, director of the Women’s Center, shared at the Brown Bag Luncheon titled “Cheer-leading Away from Dating Violence” yesterday.

And for many, the murder of Shynerra Grant will turn that statistic into more than just numbers.

Shynerra’s mother, Cheryl, joined Krueger to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The two came together to focus on abuse affecting women in junior high and high school.

The speakers wanted to spread awareness of how little the court system can do for young, abused women. In fact, Krueger said the law doesn’t recognize domestic violence in a juvenile court unless the couple is married, living together or has children together.

“Minors just fall through the cracks,” said Krueger. “They can’t get protection orders the way an adult can.”

But while Krueger has only been professionally affected by dating violence, Grant-Rucker has been personally affected.

Cheryl’s 16-year-old daughter was murdered by a boyfriend last year.

After about eight months of dating the young man, Shynerra began to realize he was not the type of guy she wanted to continue seeing. She broke up with him before going to her junior prom with someone else.

Eventually, her ex-boyfriend broke into Cheryl’s house and proceeded to push her down a set of stairs before continuing to attack her. Shynerra ended up with many fractures and her jaw was wired shut for nearly two months.

The young man had no prior criminal record, Cheryl said.

As a result, he was only charged with burglary and assault, fined $2,000, and slapped with a “no-contact order.”

According to Cheryl, this order simply prevented the ex-boyfriend from touching her daughter and didn’t stop him from following her around everywhere.

Because she was a minor, Shynerra wasn’t eligible for a full restraining order.

“There are only nine states that offer anything more to juveniles,” Cheryl said.

Roughly six months after the no-contact order, the young man broke Shynerra’s jaw. As she frantically sought refuge at a friend’s house, he was let inside after telling the friend he would simply talk to Shynerra.

Twenty minutes later, he shot her to death.

Just months after the tragedy, Cheryl said she’s trying to turn her daughter’s experience into something useful for others.

Since her daughter’s death, she has been working to pass a new law for minors involved in dating violence.

“Shynerra’s Law,” as it is being called, would force Ohio to open shelters for battered minors. It would also force both the victim and the accused to attend counseling sessions. The law would make domestic violence a part of sex education curriculum in state classrooms and teach students to always have a “safety plan” ready.

“When things come about, you don’t always know what to do,” said Cheryl. “Especially as a teen, you freak out.”

And because Shynerra was a cheerleader at Toledo’s Start High School, both Krueger and Cheryl Grant-Rucker have put together the first Shynerra Grant Memorial Cheerleading Competition. The cash fee for a squad to be in a competition has been waived and replaced with a mandatory 4-hour seminar on dating violence for all competing cheerleaders. The competition will be held this Saturday, Oct. 21, in Perry Field House starting at 9 a.m.

“We want everyone to know it’s closer to home than they think,” Krueger said.

Allison Reno, a graduate student who attended the luncheon, said she felt strongly about what Krueger and Grant-Rucker are doing to help young victims.

“I am amazed by the presenters’ strength and thankful for their dedication to raising awareness,” Reno said.

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