Bill Seeks Domestic Violence Training For Personal Care Workers

Alison Kuznitz, State House News, July 26, 2023
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Hairdressers and other personal care workers would be required to attend one hour of standardized domestic violence and sexual assault awareness training as they seek to obtain or renew their license, under pending legislation.

The Senate bill (S 146), filed by Senate Majority Leader Cindy Creem with Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, would also apply to aestheticians, barbers, cosmetologists, electrologists, manicurists and massage therapists. Creem, a Newton Democrat, promoted the bill during an event Tuesday at the State House.

Women who are experiencing domestic violence may start talking about it at the salon, or a hairdresser could notice marks on their clients' necks during hair washing, Creem said.

"This would train our hairdressers and others to recognize the issues of domestic violence and then work with a client they have, or at least report if they think it would be helpful," Creem said at the event hosted by the Women2Women International Leadership Training Program.

Creem said that Ryan has a successful training model in Middlesex County, but their goal is to provide that training statewide.

The proposal, as well as accompanying legislation (H 249) filed by Reps. Christine Barber and Paul Donato, would block schools from receiving or renewing their licenses if they do not provide the training to students in-person or online. The bills had a hearing last month before the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure.

Personal care professionals would not be civilly or criminally liable for "failing to act on information" obtained at work about potential domestic violence or sexual assault, according to the bills.

Creem told the News Service she's not sure whether those professionals should be mandated reporters.

"As someone who's worked on criminal justice issues, I don't anticipate that we will necessarily go that far," Creem said. "But they would certainly have the tools to guide people and say, 'You ought to go to this resource, you ought to go to that resource; I'm understanding, do you want to talk about it?' "