Conexion San Angelo/Staff report

DEL RIO,TX– Every year, nearly 1.5 million high school students across the country experience physical and emotional abuse at the hands of a dating partner. Teen dating violence affects 1 in 3 adolescents, a rate much greater than other forms of youth violence. The effects of violence among youth are dire and long lasting, as victims are at increased risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in teen and 20-something relationships and promote programs that prevent it. BCFS Health and Human Services-Del Rio helps local youth through several programs that provide free counseling and crisis intervention as well as domestic violence prevention and treatment. 

BCFS-Del Rio is hosting two special events in recognition of February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

On Friday, Februrary 17, BCFS-Del Rio invites fathers and their daughters to a night of music and fun at the Father Daughter Dance. Tickets are available for purchase online at DiscoverBCFS.net/DelRio or in person at 712 E. Gibbs Street, Suite 200 – $10 for fathers, $5 for daughters. Besides providing a night of memorable family fun, the goal of the event is to give fathers the opportunity to demonstrate how a gentleman behaves on a date and how to treat a young woman with respect and reverence.

On Friday, February 24, BCFS-Del Rio will hold a self-defense workshop on the art of Taijutsu (Japanese for “body technique”) for girls ages 12-18. The workshop will instruct young women on ways to prevent a threatening situation, good decision-making skills when in trouble, and how to protect themselves if their life is ever threatened in an altercation. Space is limited. Call (830) 768-2755 to sign up. 

BCFS-Del Rio encourages parents, other trusted adults and friends to look for the warning signs that a teen might be experiencing dating violence. Suspicious bruising, failing grades, and a disinterest in activities or hobbies they once enjoyed are all cause for concern. Signs that a teen may be at risk for carrying out dating violence include issues with anger management, insults or mean-spirited comments toward their partner, and threatening physical harm if there is talk about a break up. 

“Our main goal is to foster safe, loving environments in homes and relationships across our community,” says BCFS Director Delia Ramos. “When someone affected by abuse looks to us for help, we use resources, counseling and education to try to help them see that violence is never the answer, and that there are more effective ways to handle problems.” 

For more information about BCFS-Del Rio, including help for someone in an abusive relationship, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/DelRio or call (830) 768-2755.