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NEWS | Jan. 31, 2013

Mental health flight tackles teen dating violence with programs

By Robert Goetz Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011 showed one in 10 high school students reported being hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend in a 12-month period.

During Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in February, the 359th Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health Flight is offering three programs to help stem this tide of violence that can have longtime negative effects.

The month's activities begin with the Relate Right San Antonio Program, an initiative of the Bexar County Family Justice Center, which will continue into May. Other programs are a Parents Lunch and Learn facilitated by the Relate Right team from 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday at the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Youth Center and a Teen Poetry Slam from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 23 at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Warfighter and Family Readiness Center.

"Disrespect between boyfriend and girlfriend is a trend that is rampant," Gina Ramirez, 359th MDOS mental health technician, said. "We hope to make teens more aware of the issues relating to dating violence and help them move toward healthy relationships."

The Relate Right team, led by program coordinator Debbie Ledoux, visited Randolph Elementary School Jan. 25 and will continue its hour-long sessions today, Feb. 15, Feb. 22, March 1 and March 8. Sessions for older students will be conducted at the youth center Wednesday, Feb. 20, March 6, March 12, April 10, April 24, May 8 and May 22.

"The Relate Right program is an effort to stop the cycle of violence before it sabotages another generation," Ramirez said. "The teams teach healthy behavior through PowerPoint presentations and role-playing activities. Members of the teams are college students, part-time teachers and counselors."

Topics include healthy relationships, friendships, bullying and its consequences, teen dating violence, self-esteem and relating with authority.

The Parents Lunch and Learn program, also facilitated by the Relate Right team, will give parents an overview of the sessions their children are experiencing, especially the topics of healthy relationships and teen dating violence.

Ramirez said she is hopeful the programs will lead to dialogue between students and their parents and enable them to apply the lessons they learn to their lives.

A related program called Five Love Languages for Teens is scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11 and 25 at the Randolph Airman and Family Readiness Center. The program will help parents "discover how to identify and fluently speak their teen's primary love language" and show teens "how to demonstrate and express their love to their parents, siblings, friends, boyfriends and girlfriends."

The poetry slam, hosted by the Fort Sam Houston Family Advocacy Program in partnership with the Family Life Program, is seeking 13- to 18-year-old military-dependent students interested in performing or reading their original poetry to compete for cash prizes. The event will also feature food, music, door prizes and resources.

To register for the Relate Right and Parents Lunch and Learn programs, call the Randolph Youth Center at 652-3298. To register for Five Love Languages for Teens, call the 359th MDOS Mental Health Flight at 652-2448. For more information on the poetry slam, call the Fort Sam Houston Family Advocacy Outreach at 292-3501 or the Family Life Program at 221-0349.