Local agencies address teen dating violence and prevention

Officials say the highest rate of abuse reported in women happens between ages 15-24

SAN ANTONIO – February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and according to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, the highest rate of abuse reported in females happens between the ages of 15 and 24.

That's why the Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence, which includes Metro Health and San Antonio Police Department, are working to address the issue.

Often, several violent incidents have already happened before the first report is made, according to San Antonio police Sgt. Michelle Ramos.

"Back in 2018, we had two very tragic stories. We had Clarissa Riojas, who lost her life. Her boyfriend shot and killed her and then later killed himself,” Ramos said. “We also had Erin Castro, who was killed by her boyfriend. So I think we need to get the message out there. I think a lot of times, people don’t want to talk about it.”

Metro Health and the San Antonio Police Department are working together to make sure people not only know how to prevent teen dating violence but also how to respond to it.

“We always want to make sure that people know how to have safe and healthy relationships, especially for teenagers,” said Jenny Hixon, violence prevention manager of Metro Health. “We know the highest rate of abuse is in women 15 to 24, so it’s a really crucial age for people to get this information and for their family and friends to reach out and support them.”

Members of the police department have been going to high schools to talk about teen dating violence through their Success through Respect program.

“We want people to know what to look for. There’s always red flags in bad relationships,” said Ramos. “(It’s) not necessarily with physical violence. There’s also emotional, where they are insulting them, isolating them from their friends and family, as well as physical if they have injuries that they can’t explain.”

Ramos said that while the police department is working to bring awareness to the issue, it is also asking parents to get involved by being engaged in their teens’ lives and monitoring their social media accounts.

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