Local police chief works to pass bill aimed at educating teens about domestic violence
Over 20 years after a North Texas teen was killed by dating violence, the officers who first worked her case are still working to prevent this from ever happening again. It turns out, one of them made his way to Texoma in the meantime.
DENISON, Texas (KXII) - “Back in March of 2000, I was a homicide detective in Grand Prairie. It was a Saturday morning. I was called to the scene. It was in a field off of a street called Robinson Street. And at that scene was Christine Blubaugh, who had been murdered by her ex-boyfriend and the ex-boyfriend in turn killed himself.”
Mike Gudgel is the chief of the Denison Police Department now.
But he hasn’t forgotten that day.
Neither has Grand Prairie Assistant Chief Ronnie Morris.
“We need to arm our kids with the tools they need to defend themselves if they were to find themselves in an abusive relationship,” said Morris.
The best way to do that; draft legislation.
“The Christine Blubaugh Act, which allows kids of certain ages in school to receive the education on domestic violence child abuse and dating violence,” said Gudgel.
“Let’s save lives of kids in Texas. Kids are dying at the hands of dating partners and it is due in large part to a lack of education.” said Morris.
Gudgel says a bill like this could have been the difference for Christine.
“The reason this bill’s important is, what if there would have been some education? Some outcry remedies?” asked Gudgel.
Morris equates the training in this law to a dating driver’s ed.
“Well, it’s no different with someone who’s just entering the dating world at 14, 15, 16 years old. They need that same instruction, a safety manual if you will, on how to navigate a dating relationship,” said Morris.
As a police officer, Gudgel says this case made him want to change things.
As a parent, it made him want to protect his kids.
“It kinda hit me at the time. Christine, I didn’t know at the moment, but I later found out she was a twin. I’m the father of twins. My kids were really young back then but just seeing what the family had to go through and discovering that she had been abused by this ex-boyfriend in a dating violence situation,” said Gudgel.
“Over 80 percent of parents say that they do not discuss dating violence with their dating-aged children and we need to put a stop to that and save some lives of kids in Texas,” said Morris.
The first step; starting the conversation.
“I would be the first one to sign my kids up because an ounce of prevention goes a long way,” said Gudgel.
Senate Bill 9 was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott on September 17 and goes into effect on December 2.
“This bill was named the Christine Blubaugh Act because that was something personal to me but Christine represents hundreds of kids that have been murdered in the state of Texas in dating violence relationships,” said Morris.
The two know that it could happen to anyone, even their own kids if they don’t prepare them.
Morris says on average, six kids a year die from dating violence in Texas.
“To me, that’s what the face of dating violence looks like and you know, I see Christine. I see her face in my kids. And how can I not protect my kids and try to protect other people’s kids when I have a platform that allows me to do that,” said Morris.
It’s a cycle and a statistic they hope stops here.
“What I would hope for Grayson County in particular is that we can get that education in the schools and we can prevent. Ultimately, that’s the goal, is the prevention of this type of violence,” said Gudgel.
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