Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Top 10 Safe Dating Tips for Teens During TDVAM

February is designated as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). Throughout the month, organizations across the country are working to raise public awareness about the need to educate young people about dating violence, teach healthy relationship skills and prevent the devastating cycle of abuse. It’s important to learn about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Many teens do not even know they are in an unhealthy relationship because they do not know the signs.

The YWCA Central Alabama is dedicated to educating young people about the dangers of dating violence through its Healthy Relationships program. Through this program, AmeriCorps Members go into middle and high schools to teach the students about what healthy relationships really look like. At the conclusion of the program at each school, students will be decorating hearts and answering two important questions: “I refuse to abuse because…” or “I refuse to be abused because…” Toward the end of the month, we will collect all of these hearts and display them in the YWCA lobby.

For those students and for everyone else who needs to refresh their memory on what a healthy relationship is, I’ve put together a list of the top 10 safe dating tips for teens. It is my hope that everyone who reads this article will share these tips with their friends and family members, and also put them to practice in their own lives. I believe that if we all work together, we can change the idea of what constitutes a healthy relationship and make our community one that thrives on healthy relationships.

1.     Get to know a person well before you begin dating; hang out with them in groups and find out about their reputation from trusted friends.

2.     Assert yourself when necessary. Be clear and firm in your relationships about boundaries and expectations.

3.     Practice “SAFE” skills to resolve conflict in a relationship: Stay calm, Ask questions instead of jumping to conclusions, Find out how each of you feels, and Exchange ideas for a possible solution.

4.     Look out for the red flags of abuse such as controlling or possessive behavior, extreme jealousy or anger and any form of physical or emotional harm. These are warning signs that abuse could escalate.

5.     Trust your instincts. If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable, be calm, and think of a way to remove yourself from the situation. 

6.     If you feel unsafe in a relationship, work with an adult or friend to create a safety plan before breaking up with your dating partner.

7.     If your friend is being abused, listen to them, believe their story and let them know they do not deserve to be mistreated.

8.     Abuse won’t just go away if you ignore it. Seek help from a trusted friend or a local hotline such as the YWCA Crisis Line at (205) 322-4878.

9.     Respect each other’s feelings and thoughts about when, where and how affection is expressed in the relationship.

10.  Seek out fun, healthy relationships where you and your partner are both free to be yourselves and enjoy each other’s company!



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

LaFayette Lanier Elementary

First Lady Dianne Bentley traveled to Chambers County last week to spend time with students and teachers at Lafayette Lanier Elementary School. The building itself is on the historic sites list and showcases a beautiful auditorium and hardwood floors throughout. The true gems though are its people. The students, teachers, and principal could not have been more welcoming and showed a true interest in hearing from Mrs. Bentley. She told them about some of her favorite places in Alabama to visit, the Mansion, and stories about her time as First Lady. It is always a privilege to meet the people of Alabama, to answer their questions, and just hear their perspectives. This trip and the others taken always serve as a reminder of the blessing it is to be from Alabama.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Trip to Demopolis

First Lady Dianne Bentley traveled to Demopolis today to visit and get to know its people. Her first stop was at Harriet's House, the local domestic violence shelter. The original purpose was to deliver blankets for the home but while there she learned about their hearts, their needs, and their mission. The staff who runs Harriet's House causes you to re-examine your own life. They are humble, hard-working, and dedicated to improving the lives of victims in their area. They make the best of what they have and remain positive despite their needs. Mrs. Bentley was honored to meet them and hopes that her partnership with the domestic violence cause will also help them in their day to day tasks. They deserve applause and admiration for the work that they do, along with the other DV shelters in Alabama.

The next stop was at Lulu's coffee shop for a chance to continue visiting about Harriet's House and to grab a warm drink. The atmosphere was clean and the smell was wonderful (delicious bakery goods were everywhere!). It was a special treat to get to spend time there and it is worth a stop if you are in the area.

Kora's Place was on the list for lunch since they are listed in Alabama's 100 Best Places to Eat brochure put out by the AL Department of Tourism. They are known for the soul food but when we got there, we realized that they should be known for their hamburgers too. Bring your appetite when you go, because Reverend Harris, the owner, and his wife, Kora, have a big selection to choose from.

Her last visit was at U.S. Jones Elementary. This school was the perfect way to conclude the day. When the First Lady entered the building, she was greeted by third graders with Alabama and even a custom sign. She had a tour through the school thanks to the principal and the honors team, and even got to Wii bowl with a class! She ended in the library to speak and read to children. She excitedly told them about sites around Alabama and what it was like to be First Lady. Mrs. Bentley loves to visit with children in each town she visits because they are our future.