"We know these behaviors are not something that come from nowhere. And some of those kids come from homes where there may not be healthy relationships even in their homes," said Sargent.
These are learned patterns of dangerous behavior that begin in teen years," Tarrier said. Melissa Sargent, the primary author of the bill, said she will do everything she can to pass the measure and show students what a healthy relationship looks like. Twenty other states across the country have passed similar bills.
Kacey Kirkland, a victim services specialist with the police department in suburban Fairfax County, Va., has seen textual harassment in almost every form: threats. Harassment by text is only one facet of abusive relationships, which often involve contact in person, by phone, by e-mail, and through Facebook or other social networking sites.
"What technology offers is irrefutable evidence of the abuse," says Cindy Southworth, founder of the Safety Net Project on technology at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, who hopes for an increase in the conviction rate.
WASHINGTON — The text messages to the 22-year-old Virginia woman arrived the day and night, sometimes 20 or 30 at once. Harassment is "just easier now, and it's even more persistent and constant, with no letting up," says Claire Kaplan, director of sexual and domestic violence services at the University of Virginia, which became the focus of national attention in May with the killing of lacrosse player Yeardley Love, 22.