The Realities of Teen Dating Violence

By Ginny Dalton, LMSW
Social Worker, Outpatient/Ambulatory Clinics
Goldsbury Center for Children and Families
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

This year one in 13 teenage males, and one in nine females will experience physical intimate partner violence (IPV) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017).  Though research is limited for teens within the LGBTQ community, they are at-risk for IPV at the same rates, if not higher than their heterosexual peers. Overall, dating violence is experienced at a higher rate when compared to other types of youth violence, particularly among teenage girls, and is likely to be more severe when experienced at a younger age. However, it is important to remember that anyone can experience IPV.

What is Dating/IPV?
IPV generally occurs between two people in a close relationship, and may present itself in some of the following ways:

  1. Sexual Violence Unwanted/forced sexual activity, to include touching and threats.
  2. Emotional and Psychological Abuse Calling names, keeping someone from seeing friends and family, possessive, controlling, intimidation, and blaming.
  3. Physical Abuse Unwanted physical contact like biting, pulling hair, punching, kicking, and grabbing someone to keep them somewhere or to get their attention.
  4. Stalking Repeated watching, following, harassment that makes someone feel unsafe. This may include repeated calls, voicemails, text messages, showing up at one’s workplace, home, or school.
  5. Digital Abuse In-person, or over social media (cyberbullying) Controlling friendships by texts, sending unwanted messages and pictures and/or posting them publicly online, checking partner’s phone frequently, limited privacy online, tracking whereabouts by phone, GPS, etc.

Why is this important, and what does it mean for the future?
Dating violence among teens has long-term effects on mental, physical, and emotional health. Teenagers who have experienced this are at-risk for drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, thinking about or attempting suicide, and engaging in risky sexual behaviors that may lead to pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

What can we do?
Spread awareness. Talk about it. Create a safe and comfortable environment for conversation. Listen without judgement and be supportive. Most teens in an abusive relationship never report, due to fear, lack of money and resources, or distrust of authority figures. More than half of parents are not aware of teen dating violence or do not think there is an issue. IPV among teens is a national concern that is frequently overlooked. In recent years, Bexar County has ranked second in Texas for adult domestic violence cases, creating opportunities for the cycle of abuse to continue among teens and their dating partners.

Available Support
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474 (8453 TTY), text loveis to 22522 -online chat available 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

RAINN Hotline: 1-800-656-4673, AND/OR San Antonio Rape Crisis Center: 210-349-7273,

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-784-2433

Break the Cycle:

National Center for victims of Crime-Dating Violence Resource Center:

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Dating Matters: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships:

The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Emergency Department/Forensic Nursing (SANE):  333 North Santa Rosa St., San Antonio, Texas 78207, 210-704-2190

If you are experiencing abuse, you may request a referral from your medical provider to speak with a social worker or psychologist at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio or The Goldsbury Center for Children and Families. When appropriate, a referral can be made to The Center for Miracles at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, located at 315 N. San Saba, San Antonio, Texas 78207.

Heart screening for little Texans can save lives

By Dr. Lakshmi Nagaraju
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine
Pediatric Cardiologist, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

February is American Heart Month

Congenital heart disease (CHD) affects the structure and function of a baby’s heart.  It is the most common type of birth defect and babies born with these conditions are living a longer and healthier life, thanks to advancements in cardiac care.

CHD affects about 1 percent of newborn babies per year in the United States. Approximately one out of every four babies requires some type of procedure in the first year of life; this is known as critical CHD.  Many newborns with critical CHD have symptoms and are diagnosed soon after birth; however, a significant number of newborns are discharged from the hospital without being diagnosed with CHD until they become very ill.  Symptoms of critical CHD can be different from what adults experience with heart disease and are often symptoms children have with other illnesses as well such as breathing fast, working harder to breathe, not eating well, getting tired easily, looking pale, and acting lethargic.

A delay in diagnosis can increase their risk of serious illness and death.  This is why newborn screening for critical congenital heart disease using a monitor that checks oxygen saturations was developed and is currently a state-mandated guideline in Texas.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) guidelines are the most commonly used recommendations for critical CHD screening:

  • Screening is performed after 24 hours of life or as late as possible if early discharge is planned.
  • Be aware that screening within the first 24 hours of life can be less accurate.
  • One probe is placed on the right hand and one is placed on either foot, at the same time or one right after the other.

A positive screen includes:

  • Oxygen saturation less than 90 percent in either extremity; or
  • Oxygen saturation between 90 – 94 percent in both upper and lower extremities on three measurements, each separated by an hour; or
  • Oxygen saturation difference greater than 3 percent between the upper and lower extremities on 3 measurements, each separated by an hour.


A newborn with a positive screen should not be discharged from the hospital and should undergo further testing (e.g. an echocardiogram or ultrasound of the heart, an X-ray, lab tests) or consultation (by a pediatric cardiologist) to understand the cause of the low saturation.

If your child has any symptoms of CHD listed above, talk to your pediatrician. If you need to identify a pediatrician for your child, visit

Tips for a heart-healthy diet

By Amy Bellanger, RD, CSP, LD
Clinical Dietitian
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Happy American Heart Month! Here are a few simple but powerful changes you can start making today for a healthier heart.

Increase intake of fruits and vegetables
Most adults need two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables daily. Work on making half your plate fruits and vegetables. There are always opportunities to add more vegetables to your favorite dishes. Consider adding sauteed bell peppers, mushrooms, onions to your eggs, or tomatoes and thinly sliced squash to your pasta dishes.

Limit saturated fat
Choose lean meats like loin and rounds, and avoid processed meats such as salami, bacon, chorizo, and pepperoni. Select plant-based proteins like tofu, beans, or legumes instead of animal protein. Choose low-fat cooking methods like grilling, broiling, baking, searing. Avoid deep-fried and processed foods such as chips, french fries, and funnel cakes.

Choose healthier fats
Eat fish two times per week. Select foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, albacore tuna, walnuts, and chia seeds. Other good sources of healthy fats are nuts, olive oil, canola oil, avocado, and ground flax seed.

Reduce sodium (salt) intake
Salt is salt, avoid added salt, and processed foods. Limit eating out and cook at home more often. Use onions, garlic, fresh lemon, pepper, jalapeño, herbs, and spices to add flavor to foods without using salt. Be aware of hidden salt by reading food labels. Most foods you eat should have less than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Increase fiber intake
It is recommended that adults eat 25-30 grams of fiber daily, however the average American eats around 15 grams per day. A simple change would be to exchange processed or refined grains such as white bread for whole grains such as wheat bread or quinoa, and eat more fruits and vegetables.

Obtain a healthy weight
If you are overweight or obese work toward reducing your weight slowly and steadily. Healthy diet changes and reasonable physical activity can result in your ability to maintain your ideal weight in the long term. It’s a lifestyle change not a diet; these are long-term changes.

If you or your child need help finding a doctor to help with a weight loss program, visit