Celebrating Spiritual Care Week October 24-30, 2021

Meet our spiritual care team at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. These men and women work alongside our doctors and nurses to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.

The celebration of Spiritual Care Week provides an opportunity for chaplains and our chaplains-in-training to share their story and to celebrate their ministry. The chaplains at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio are dedicated to serving your spirit through passionate ministry with compassionate care. Through this blog, we will introduce you to the extraordinary chaplains who work alongside our physicians and nurses to deliver a health-care experience that embraces the mind, body and spirit of the individuals and families we serve.

Meet Chaplain Darren Bennett

Chaplain Darren Bennett was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Darren is a proud graduate of Kentucky State University, a historically Black university in Frankfort, Kentucky. He has lived in 10 U.S. cities. Darren moved to San Antonio this past summer after joining our Spiritual Care Team as a pediatric chaplain. Darren enjoys sports, cooking, reading and watching movies. “I like the opportunity to connect with people in some of the most authentic ways,” Darren said. 

Meet Chaplain Gabriela “Gabi” De Faria Lira

Chaplain Gabriela De Faria Lira was born in Recife, PE, Brazil, and has lived in San Antonio for the past 12 years.  Chaplain Gabi, as she is affectionately known, has served with compassion on our Spiritual Care Team for four years.  She completed both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree while in the United States. Her first language is Portuguese and she learned English and Spanish at the same time while studying in San Antonio. Gabriela is an ordained minister and is currently pursuing board certification for chaplaincy. Chaplain Gabi likes spending time with her husband and daughter, going to the beach, and listening to music. “What I love about chaplaincy is getting to know people, other cultures, and different faith traditions,” Gabi said.

Meet Chaplain Resident Nathan Magsig

Chaplain Resident Nathan Magsig was born in Anderson, Indianam but has spent most of his life in San Antonio. Nathan is currently a Master of Divinity student through Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity with additional course work from Anderson School of Theology. Nathan holds degrees in liberal arts and business marketing through Anderson University and has enjoyed a background in design and print production. Nathan also enjoys ministering through youth, worship, and stand-in preaching via his home church and family ministries. 

Nathan’s personal interests and passions range from art and design to outdoor activities, travel, and studies of history and culture. In his free time, Nathan loves being with his friends and family and creating art through both digital and traditional medium. “To me, chaplaincy is a powerful means of creating meaningful relationships through ministry service and intentional presence. I feel very blessed to be a small piece of the ministry here at CHRISTUS,” Nathan said.

Meet Chaplain Alyssa Maldonado

Chaplain Alyssa Maldonado is from San Antonio and had the blessing of completing her chaplain internship and residency at Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. Alyssa earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing from the University of the Incarnate Word and is completing a Master of Divinity with a concentration in chaplaincy in December 2021 from Chicago Theological Seminary. She is currently working toward both ordination and chaplaincy board certification.

Alyssa and has served with CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System as a part-time chaplain since January 2021, and also serves as a hospice chaplain. Alyssa recently began serving as the  Associate Care Chaplain for The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. Chaplain Alyssa enjoys spending time with her family, serving others, watching movies and sports, listening to soft rock music and reading. 

“Chaplaincy speaks to my heart and spirit and I am passionate about it. At the end of my shift, I remember that I went nowhere by accident,” Alyssa shared.

Meet Chaplain Stephani Shumaker

Chaplain Stephani was born and raised in San Antonio. She completed her bachelors degree in Public Health at Schreiner University. Prior to entering ministry, Stephani worked as an emergency medical technician and an emergency room scribe in various San Antonio hospitals. Stephani lived Chicago for the past four years as she completed her Master of Divinity at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Chaplain Stephani is an Individual Mobilization Augmente (IMA) Chaplain Candidate in the United States Air Force Reserves and has completed tours at Offutt, Keesler, and Andrews Air Force Bases. She is a dog mom to Pico de Gallo and Frito Lay, enjoys Camp Gladiator and riding her Peloton. “What I love about chaplaincy is creating space for patients, families, and Associates to share their stories,” Stephani shared.

Meet Chaplain Boby Thomas

Chaplain Boby Thomas is a Roman Catholic priest, originally from India, serving in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago. He has been in San Antonio for the last year, pastoring at the local Syro-Malabar Catholic Parish. Fr. Boby holds bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and theology and Master of Hospital Administration and a Master of Business Administration.  He enjoys outdoor games, listening to music and reading. “Selfless love and support saves life,” Boby said.

Hospitalized patients in our pediatric and women’s service units may request a visit from a chaplain by asking their nurse. The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio is part of CHRISTUS Health, San Antonio’s only Catholic faith-based hospital system. During Spiritual Care Week, we offer our sincere gratitude to our team of chaplains who answered the call to serve our ministry and to fulfill our mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.

Consider these 5 questions before getting a puppy for Christmas

Kristina Michaud, DO, Baylor College of Medicine, PGY-2 Resident, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

The bond between children and their dog is magical. Dogs teach children how to love and care for someone, how to put others’ needs above their own, and how to be responsible. Dogs can also be extremely therapeutic for children, acting as a friend and adventure buddy, which is especially important during these current times when children may feel isolated.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused people to stay home, which may prompt parents to finally add a furry friend to their family. After all, what better way to train a new puppy than when you’re already doing school and work from home, and don’t plan on traveling for the holidays! Except it’s not quite that simple!

Just like having a child changes your life, getting a puppy (and caring for it properly) will also change your life. Dogs are intelligent, active, social beings who require time, love, and attention in many of the same ways children do. Likewise, when they are not given adequate attention and exercise, they can become lonely and depressed. So, before you bring home a cute puppy for your child who has been so kindly asking for one, be sure you can answer “yes” to these 5 questions!

  1. Do you have the financial means? Not including the adoption fee itself, puppies are very expensive to care for. They require frequent visits to the veterinarian when they’re young to receive their vaccines, and the cost of spaying/neutering them can be upwards of $200. You must also account for the cost of their monthly food, flea and tick prevention, heart worm prevention, toys, and crate. One of my dogs developed seizures after her first year of life and now requires an expensive daily medication—just like in humans, medical needs come up and lead to additional costs. Over the course of the dog’s lifespan (10-15 years), the expenses add up. And this doesn’t account for things like safely boarding the dog if/when your family goes out of town, unexpected veterinary visits, replacing the shoes or the sofa that the puppy chewed (oops!), etc.
  2. Are you and your family physically ready? Dogs require a lot of exercise. Unless you have a large yard where the dog can run around, the dog’s exercise will likely come in the form of you walking or running with him/her every day. This is great exercise for humans too!
  3. Do you have the space? Depending on the size of the dog, he/she may take up a lot of space in your home. Dogs also need plenty of room to run, play, eat, go potty, and have moments of privacy away from young children to rest.
  4. Is your child old enough to help care for the puppy? Children don’t usually develop abstract thinking until after the age that they’ve started school — some experts say they maintain concrete thinking until age 12 years.  This means it is difficult for them to anticipate others’ needs before this age. Many young children will ask their parents for a puppy, but remember that they probably won’t be able to fully help care for the dog until they are older. It may also be smart to wait until your child is older and does not have as many toys around, as these can be choking hazards for the puppy!
  5. What will your life look like 5, 10, or 15 years from now? When thinking about getting a puppy (or any pet) now, it’s important to think about how your life may change in the years to come. Will you be in the same home with the same yard? Will you want to travel? Will you want to care for the dog when your children are grown up and no longer living with you? Who will care for the dog if something unfortunate happens to you?

While these questions can be difficult to imagine, it’s best to be prepared when adding this new member to your family.

If you have considered these questions and feel that now is the right time for you to get a puppy, how exciting! You will have lots of love, puppy snuggles and great memories ahead of you.

On behalf of The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, we wish you and your family a merry Christmas and blessed New Year!

Fresh Ideas for Summertime Fun

Likhitha Reddy, MD, PGY2, Resident, Baylor College of Medicine – The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

How many times have your school-age children told you they are bored today and that there was nothing to do? Have they given up asking, “What are we doing today?” because they know the answer? It’s tough being a kid – even tougher being a parent the past few months.  

We’ve compiled a list of things parents and caregivers can do to keep kids of all ages occupied and maybe even stimulate their curiosity and knowledge – helping you all get through the crazy summer of 2020.  

1. Schedule activities ahead of time While it may not be possible for children to physically attend camps, extracurricular activities or play dates in person, there are an abundance of activities available for your children to enjoy. Scheduling activities beforehand will help children maintain a routine and have something to look forward to every day.

2. Active play is a child’s best friend It is important to incorporate as much active play into children’s schedules as possible. Playing outside, riding bikes in the park, hiking, playing soccer, basketball, volleyball, or just going for a walk around the neighborhood are great ways to get exercise while also spending valuable time with your children.

3. Read, read, read As much as exercise and active play are necessary, it is just as important to make sure kids have time to keep their brains engaged and continue to learn through the summer. Schedule time for reading or listening to audio books or podcasts this summer. The San Antonio Public Library is a wonderful resource to achieve this goal.

4. Limit screen time as much as possible Electronic devices may seem like the easiest option to keep kids busy for most of the day. You can still find ways to make sure screen time includes interactive and educational components. As a parent, it’s important to make sure screen time doesn’t interfere with activities that engage the brain and keep children physically active. Also, make sure devices do not interfere with sleep and family relationships.

Let’s keep our brains active!

Google Arts & Culture has partnered with thousands of museums around the world to offer virtual tours from the comfort of your home. Click here for the complete list.

If you prefer a virtual zoo experience, the San Diego Zoo has set up virtual cams for children to watch the animals. San Diego Virtual Zoo

The San Diego Zoo offers a virtual experience. What are the elephants up to today?

From drawings to science experiments, NASA is providing lists of activities for kids to enjoy with their parents at home! Check out Outta This World!

For a low price of $5, Scholastic provides educational activities for children all summer long. Learn at Home

Chrome Music Lab is a hands on website that helps kids tap into their musical side

Texas Home Learning provides at-home resources for parents to help access educational activities for children. Let’s Learn!

Summer camp…Virtually!? Use Varsity Tutors to help kids (K-12) make the most of their break with interactive camps taught by expert instructors online.

Get your art on with Ms. Sue! Let you and your kids’ creative side flow with free online art classes on Youtube! Ms. Sue’s Art Studio is always open!

Story time is fun time!

Audible is one of the world’s largest collections of audio books and they are currently offering free stories in all different languages for kids! Start Listening Here!  

Podcasts especially for younger children between 2  and 6 years old! List of Podcasts

Storyline Online is a children’s literacy website that streams videos of celebrities reading children’s books along with illustrations.

Imagine a world of possibilities thru the San Antonio Public Library! Subscribe to the Youtube Channel to get more information. IMAGINE!  

Summer sunshine

  • Go on family bike rides or hikes, try to see how many different animals they can identify.
  • Go to the San Antonio Zoo.
  • There are a number of parks still open in San Antonio and families can spend time there while safely social distancing:
    • Friedrich Wilderness Park – By far the most popular park in San Antonio!
    • Brackenridge Park – Great place for biking!
    • Government Canyon park
    • Woodlawn Lake Park – Great place for hikes and fishing!
    • Japanese tea garden
    • Botanical Gardens
    • Jenschke Orchards in Fredericksburg has peach picking tours available for the family. Pick Peaches here!
  • Plan a picnic in the park on a nice sunny day.

Stay in and bond!

Garden in your own backyard.

Cook with your brand new planted garden crop! Explore new recipes with the help of local San Antonio CHEF program. Children as young as 3 can help you cook in the kitchen and it can be a fun adventure to get them to try new cuisines as well!

Camp out in your backyard and cook up some s’mores.

Shoot for the stars! Go stargazing outside on a nice clear night. How many different constellations can you identify?

Pick up some chalk at any local store and decorate the sidewalks. Maybe even play a game of hopscotch!

How about a good old fashioned game of hopscotch on the sidewalk? Hopping can be great exercise. Use sunscreen and stay hydrated when playing outside.

It may have been a while since the kids saw their elderly loved ones. Have them write and decorate homemade letters to the grandparents! Plan time to visit with them through windows or glass doors. If it’s hard to hear each other, use your mobile phone to chat at the same time. They will love seeing how big you’ve grown … and they miss you more than you know!

We hope this list has given you some new ideas and resources to make it through the summer, get some exercise, and keep the boredom blues away!

If your child is having a tough time coping during the pandemic, talk to your pediatrician. If you need a pediatrician, check out The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Primary Care Pediatricians

Should Your Kids Be Color Blind?

Ruchi Kaushik, MD, MPH, Medical Director, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Complex Care Clinic; Assistant Professor, Baylor College of Medicine

Are your children oblivious to what is happening in our world today? The peaceful protesting of the deadly interactions between law enforcement and persons of color is an historic moment in our country. Undoubtedly, whether you have talked about it at home or not, if they have access to an electronic device, your children know what’s happening. As a parent, it’s important for you to frame current events with the values you want to instill. You must remember that you will always be their favored and most trusted source.

Raising three little girls is no easy task, and I spend countless hours preparing them for issues that may arise in their worlds. I recently stopped at the grocery store and asked my two older daughters to run in quickly and grab a few things. My teen turned to my pre-teen and said, “We have to be on our best behavior and not call attention to ourselves. Don’t ever forget that we are brown.” We have talked about race in our home before, but apparently it was time to hold another family meeting.

How you approach the issue will differ according to your child’s age and to whether your family is white or made up of people of color.

  1. Secure your own oxygen mask before securing your child’s: Are you OK? How are you coping? Take a moment to care for yourself. Your child will remember your reaction and emotions far more than your words. I, personally, found it very painful to watch the video of George Floyd’s death and reached out to pediatrician friends who reminded me of the good work we do to advocate for children and that hope is not lost.
  2. Check-in with your children: It might be helpful to learn what your child already knows and how they feel about it. Be an active listener and validate their emotions. It is absolutely okay and correct to state out loud that racism is real and the pain that people feel from being mistreated because of their race is real. This conversation will likely be more detailed with older children.
  3. Emphasize safety and security: Remind your children they will be OK. With the country’s reaction so visible, children will be most concerned with what will happen to their world. Feeling safe in their home is particularly important for younger children.
  4. Take a news break: Young children will benefit from a break from current events.  Spending quality time together as a family will provide reassurance and security.  When you are watching, be sure to watch together and discuss what you see with your child. Be sure to avoid graphic images and sounds. Older children and teens will need help understanding what is true and what is not on the internet and in social media.
  5. Listen, ask and answer questions, and teach empathy: When you ask open-ended questions and actively listen and validate their answers, you are role modeling this behavior for your children. Every child’s experiences will be different, but teaching them to be open to others’ perspectives encourages empathy. Explain to your child that just because she hasn’t experienced discrimination doesn’t mean that other children haven’t or that it is not real. A willingness to listen to others and attempt to feel their pain brings us closer as a community and allows us to heal together.
  6. Know the Signs:  Children don’t often come out and tell you that they are having difficulty coping with a tragedy.  Rather, they often have difficulty with sleep, problems in behavior, vague physical symptoms such as headaches, changes in appetite, or emotional problems such as depression or anxiety.  Be sure to keep an eye out for these issues and bring them up to your pediatrician or a mental health professional if you have noticed them in your child.

For more information, age-appropriate recommendations, and resources, visit this HealthyChildren.org article written by national American Academy of Pediatrics experts Drs. Nia Heard-Garris and Jacqueline Douge. Dr. Heard-Garris recently participated in the CNN/Sesame Street Racism Town Hall.

If you liked this blog, please subscribe so you can be the first to receive new blogs on a variety of topics to help you maneuver parenthood.

The Sky is Not Falling! Talking to your kids about COVID-19

By Sky Izaddoost, MD, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Primary Care – Stone Oak

It’s been about a month, y’all! The kids have been home for a month. Seriously. I said a month.  While our lives have changed, so have the lives of our kids. My 5-year-old thought she didn’t get dessert last night because of “the COVID” (really it was because she didn’t eat enough of her veggies). Yes, COVID-19 has made an impact on our kids regardless of age. The kids miss their friends. Mine haven’t left our neighborhood in weeks. But worst of all, they hear us talk. They hear us say that people are sick. They hear us say people are dying. They hear our anxieties of how to pay the bills when paychecks are getting cut. They know more than you think, but they react differently than we do.

Some kids can tell you how they feel when given the opportunity to talk. Some kids have nightmares. Some kids shut down all together and refuse to talk. It’s up to us as parents to start this conversation and help our kiddos with stress during this pandemic.

So let’s get started. First, find out what they know about COVID-19. If you ever played telephone as a kid, you know that facts get twisted when they are passed from person to person. Talk to your kids about what they know and help reduce their stress by dispelling some rumors that may not be true. A child with anxiety about getting sick will benefit from reminders that they are staying home to avoid getting sick and to stop the virus. Really, y’all are superheroes at home. You are welcome to wear a cape.

Second, a routine y’all! Your kids are used to doing the same thing every day at school or daycare. Set up something similar at home. While it may seem odd to have to wake up, get dressed and not go anywhere, it returns them to a sense of normal.

Wake up by 8 a.m. Get dressed, brush teeth, fix hair, wash face, and eat breakfast. Just like a normal day. Then get schoolwork done. Make sure you set an afternoon goal or surprise to make getting schoolwork done easier. You could make a fairy lantern, create a scavenger hunt for parents, volcano science experiment, tickle war, or bake something. Also, set aside time for exercise – at least 30 minutes a day or work in an hour if you can. Have your kids help make lunch and eat lunch together as a family. 

Add some self-care elements to your routine. Beyond just exercise, pull out that old yoga mat and try some moves with the kids. My kids love to relax in a bath with a fancy bath bomb. Extra points because they made the bath bomb themselves. (Amazon for the win!) Think about ways you relieve stress for the kids during the regular school year and modify them to current conditions. Eating out relieves stress. So, have a picnic.  The weather has been awesome lately. Just make sure to put on the sunscreen and insect repellent based on age.

Practice social distancing. Honestly, I prefer the term “physical distancing.” Let your kids talk to their friends via Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime to keep them involved in each other’s lives. Give bonus time to talk about schoolwork! Kids can play games on Skype like Scattergories, Heads Up, charades, and have dance parties. Another thing you can do is set up a scavenger hunt where each parent provides a list of items and kids have to run around their respective houses with their devices finding two matching socks, or something shiny, or a superhero in a book.

Finally, this is stressful for adults – just as much as it is for our children. Every day there is something new for us to worry about. Take time to have conversations with your kids about everything that is going on. Reassure them of all the things you are doing to keep them safe. And remember to stay positive. San Antonio is an amazing city and our citizens and heroes are rising to the occasion.

So thank you to all of our health care workers, grocery store workers, delivery truck drivers, and all essential personnel for keeping us together and keeping us safe.  And thank you to the stressed-out parents at home who are keeping the kids and our community safe by staying at home with grace. Wear your cape proudly San Antonio. And send us some pics!

Dr. Sky practices at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Primary Care – Stone Oak. We are accepting new patients and taking extra precautions at all of our clinics to keep children and their parents safe and healthy. We carefully screen all patients by phone and during each visit, separating our days into morning well visits and afternoon sick visits, minimizing waiting room time and practicing safe social distancing and masking. We also have the ability to do video visits, allowing families to talk with a doctor without leaving home whenever possible. To learn more about our services and locations, find us at https://www.christushealth.org/childrens/services-treatments/primary-care.

How to Approach Your Child’s Behavior Issues When You Can’t Leave the House

By Courtney Smith, MD, FAAP, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Primary Care – Dominion Crossing

If you are noticing more tantrums from your toddlers, more attitude from your teens, or rising frustration within your family as a whole, you are not alone. Because of stay-home guidelines, many parents and children have been forced into a “new normal,” now doing school and work from home or shifting into new roles within the family. Add a grumpy, defiant, or exhausted child to the mix and it’s easy to feel like you are drowning.

First, let’s start with some behavior basics. While at times it may seem like your child is pushing your buttons just to test you, most children are not being intentionally disobedient. We know that behavior in kids is an outward manifestation of what is going on within that child. Think of behavior as the tip of the iceberg, or the part you can see above the water. However, the bulk of the iceberg lies below the water and keeps the ice afloat. That part is made up of things like anxiety, fear, sleep deprivation, and other factors that ultimately shape the behavior. Many of those underlying factors are hard for children to identify or talk about, but looking at the cause of behavior change is key to redirecting and reshaping that behavior.

So how do we address the causes of unwanted behavior? Anxiety and fear are important drivers of behavior. Toddlers and younger children are often very dependent on a predictable schedule. There aren’t many things under their control, so knowing “what comes next” is important. Creating a predictable routine can often help decrease anxiety about the unknown and reduce tantrums. For older children and teens, routine is also important, but watching the COVID-19 pandemic unfold is enough to create high levels of anxiety. Talk to your kids. Ask them what they think about the events going on and what they understand about them. You may be able to correct misinformation and reassure them at the same time. Let kids know it’s OK to be frustrated or worried and show them outlets to express those emotions rather than ignoring those feelings.

Healthy meals and exercise are important for growing brains. It’s hard for kids (and adults) to keep their cool when they are hungry or just need to move!  While eating out or going to the playground may not be an option right now, there are a lot of activities you can do as a family to work those muscles and prevent hunger from driving that difficult behavior. Sleep is also important, and just because kids may not be waking up as early for school, staying up all night watching movies or playing games can have major consequences when it’s time to do homework or school assignments the next day. Daily schedules should include meals, wake up time and bedtime as well.

Lastly, help kids connect with one another and family members who they may not be able to see in person right now. Kids can feel isolated just like us, especially when they are used to being at school and extracurricular activities. Create virtual meetings among family members, share a meal together via Facetime, or involve friends or family members for “virtual” story time. Write letters or send words of encouragement to others and show your kids the importance of thinking about others during times of crisis.

So next time you find yourself ready to pull your hair out because of your child’s behavior, take a moment to think about the causes behind that behavior. And if you need some help (which we all do sometimes), reach out to your pediatrician! We are here for you, and many of us are navigating those toddler tantrums and teen angst right alongside you.

Dr. Courtney Smith practices at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Primary Care – Dominion Crossing. We are accepting new patients and taking extra precautions at all of our clinics to keep children and their parents safe and healthy. We carefully screen all patients by phone and during each visit, separating our days into morning well visits and afternoon sick visits, minimizing waiting room time and practicing safe social distancing and masking. We also have the ability to do video visits, allowing families to talk with a doctor without leaving home whenever possible. To learn more about our services and locations, find us at https://www.christushealth.org/childrens/services-treatments/primary-care.

We are here for your family!

Keep calm and parent on

By Nancy Kellogg, MD, Child Abuse Specialist, and the team at the Center for Miracles at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new work force: stay-at-home parents who are faced with the 24/7 job of child care.   The additional stresses of isolation, buying food, and keeping children happy and safe can be exhausting and frustrating.  Here are a few tips:

1. Try to keep a routine for mealtimes and activities so children are engaged and less likely to get bored and irritable. 

2. Invent some new activity/game. For example, older children may enjoy a different scavenger hunt each day for a favorite toy. There are plenty of websites to explore ideas: https://time.com/5803373/coronavirus-kids-at-home-activities/

3. Limit screen time for yourself and your children.  Social media content is more stressful now and children need to stay healthy and balanced with physical and interpersonal activity. Play outside whenever possible.

4. If you use a babysitter, be sure you speak to references first and ask for frequent updates when you are away. Make sure your children know to call you if they ever feel uncomfortable or scared.

4. Know your triggers.

*A baby who won’t stop crying. Put him in the crib, walk away, and take a few minutes of “time out” for yourself in another room

*A toddler with tantrums. Distract her, redirect attention, and use time out so everyone can calm down.

*Potty training.  Have lots of patience and if it is too stressful for you or your child, stop.

5. Be kind to yourself and others.  Everyone has been affected by COVID-19.           

6. Video chat with friends and family or try a hotline: Counselors are available 24 hours a day at Childhelp’s National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-809.4.A.CHILD

To report suspected child abuse: 1-800-252-5400

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 http://www.loveisrespect.org -online chat available 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

RAINN Hotline: 1-800-656-4673, http://www.rainn.org AND/OR San Antonio Rape Crisis Center: 210-349-7273, rapecrisis.com

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

Break the Cycle: http://www.breakthecycle.org

National Center for victims of Crime-Dating Violence Resource Center: http://www.ncvc.org

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Dating Matters: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/datingmatters

The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Emergency Department/Forensic Nursing (SANE): https://www.chofsa.org/emergency  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.

August 24: Mental Health Awareness Day

Mental health and our youth: bringing awareness to an under-reported issue

Blog provided by the following Baylor College of Medicine Pediatric Residents at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio: Dr. Nga Tang, PGY1; Dr. Alyssa Estes, PGY1; Dr. Matthew Sattler, PGY1; Dr. Christian Molony, PGY1; Dr. Ashley Gabriel, PGY2; Dr. Andrew Milera, PGY2; Dr. Cody Clary, PGY2; Dr. Amanda Scully, PGY2; Dr. Lauren Kjolhede, PGY3; Dr. Ann Marie Mojica, PGY3; Dr. Pedro Zavala, PGY3

Children’s mental health is an important part of their well-being and overall health as they grow and develop into adults. Anxiety, depression, bullying, suicide, social media exposure, addiction, and even school shootings are all issues that our children face today.

A common denominator is that all are related to mental health. But how often do we truly address mental health on a daily basis? What if we discover that our children need help? It can seem a daunting task, but we hope we can shed light on this day set aside to reflect on mental health and share resources to help our children and families when they need it most.

Continue reading “August 24: Mental Health Awareness Day”

Talking to your child about tragedy

Raising three little girls is no easy task, and I spend countless hours preparing them for issues that may arise in their worlds.  By far, one of the most painful things I have ever had to teach my daughter was what to do in the event of an active shooter in her school in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

As our country reels from yet another school shooting, many families are having difficulty finding the right words to explain what this means for their children. What you tell your children and how much you tell children can be challenging to navigate, particularly because you are likely not the only source of information for them. Depending on their age, they may be processing information from family, friends and neighbors; the news, including TV, newspapers, and magazines; and the internet, which often displays false information that is perpetuated by social media. However, you must remember that you will always be their favored and most trusted source. So what, and how, should you tell your children?

Continue reading “Talking to your child about tragedy”