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NEWS | Jan. 28, 2016

Healthy relationships key to preventing teen dating violence

Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

February is Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month across the U.S., and Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Mental Health Clinic members will be educating teenagers, young adults and their parents on how to prevent or stop abusive relationships by using skills and habits that can lead to healthier relationships.

The classes being offered by the JBSA-Randolph Mental Health Clinic in February will educate teenagers and young adults by teaching them how to identify the signs of an abusive relationship.

“We are helping families recognize healthy relationships and recognize abuse,” said Gina Ramirez, 359th Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health Flight outreach and resiliency coordinator. “It’s helping teenagers and young adults recognize what healthy boundaries and relationships are like.”

Ramirez said an unhealthy relationship can include both physical and verbal abuse. The signs of an abusive relationship can include being inconsiderate, disrespectful, distrustful, making threats or physically hurting a significant other.

Small incidents in an abusive relationship, such as name-calling, could lead to violence, Ramirez said.

“It always begins small and escalates,” Ramirez said. “It’s not just somebody hitting you, punching you or slapping you. Those are the extremes. How the abuse begins is what we want to get across to the parents and to the teenagers.”

According to surveys, teenage dating violence and abuse is widespread. One in 11 high school students, according to the website http://www.kidshealth.org, said they were physically abused on a date. In addition, 80 percent of teenagers say that verbal abuse is a problem for their age group.

Ramirez said a healthy relationship is based on trust, respect and honesty. She said partners in a healthy relationship can respect each other’s choices and decisions even if they disagree with them, have equal say and respected boundaries and can communicate their feelings in an open and honest way.

Classes and forums offered in February for Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month include:

• Feb. 10 – “A Cup of Prevention,” 8:30-9:30 a.m., at the JBSA-Randolph Medical Clinic MDOS Conference Room. Parents learn about and discuss healthy relationships, social courage, self-image and awareness, coping strategies and communication in their children’s teenage years. Forum is facilitated by the Texas Advocacy Project, a non-profit law firm that provides free legal services to victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, according to the law firm’s website.

• Feb. 10 – “In Their Shoes,” 5-6:30 p.m., at the JBSA-Randolph Youth Center. Put on by the Texas Advocacy Project for teenagers. In this forum, six teenagers re-enact scenes from the experiences of real life teenagers in relationships, including a dating partner, family and friends. Forum includes the film “Teen Talk: In Their Shoes.”

• Feb. 17 – “Responsible Social Media Teen Talk,” 5-6:30 p.m., at JBSA-Randolph Youth Center. Teenagers learn about the appropriate uses of social media and the pitfalls, including cyber-bullying, and how to avoid those pitfalls. Class is taught by Fara Smith, 802nd Force Support Squadron Family Life Program educator at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.

• Feb. 22 – “Dangers of Social Media,” 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the JBSA-Randolph Human Performance Resource Center. Parents get educated about social media, how their children are using it, the pitfalls of it and how they can protect their children from social media pitfalls. Class is taught by Smith.

• Feb. 23 – “Body Image and Nutrition,” 5-6 p.m., at JBSA-Randolph Youth Center. Class is taught by Danette Blair, JBSA-Randolph Chapel youth coordinator. Children are taught that making healthy eating and lifestyle choices can lead to healthy relationships.

The JBSA-Randolph Youth Center is sponsoring a teen dating violence essay contest for ages 13-18. The essay topic is teen dating violence in today’s culture;  essay must be 500 words or less. Deadline for essay submission is Feb. 19 at the youth center.

Essays will be judged by the JBSA-Randolph First Sergeant’s Council.

To register to participate in the classes and forums, call the JBSA-Randolph Mental Health Clinic at 652-2448.