CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Feb. 23, 2021) – An event held Feb. 18 at the Camp Zama Youth Center was aimed at raising community awareness on the issue of teen dating violence, the installation’s director said.
The two-hour event was held in conjunction with Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, and included presentations from the installation’s Military and Family Life counselor and subject-matter experts from Army Community Service, the Army Substance Abuse Program and U.S. Army Medical Department Activity – Japan, said Hannah Maza.
Maza said she chose presenters who could discuss and provide insight on topics such as emotional intelligence, the risks of drug and alcohol abuse, and general teen health issues related to teens. The variety of presenters garnered positive feedback from attendees, Maza said.
“The event went well,” Maza said. “The teens even asked if [the Youth Center could host] a teen health class monthly [that covers] specific topics.”
Shannon Hutchinson, one of the presenters at the event, is a prevention coordinator assigned to ASAP. She spoke to the teens about the negative effects of substance abuse, including the risk of increased violent behavior.
Dating violence happens to [people of] all ages, and I want for teens to make safe decisions when it comes to drugs or alcohol and to know that regardless of the situation, there are people they can speak with who want to help,” Hutchinson said.
Darren Powell, a Family Advocacy Program specialist assigned to ACS, talked about emotional intelligence when in a dating relationship and how it can help young adults develop the discipline to manage their emotions. Powell observed that the teens in attendance were "very engaged … attentive and interested,” in his presentation.
Charlotte Patterson, a junior at Zama Middle High School, said she attended the event because she wanted to learn how to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship and how to avoid them. Powell’s presentation was informative and “addressed the topic wonderfully,” Patterson said.
One of the key things Patterson said she will take from the event is to understand how to respond in a heated moment and not react rashly—an important part of any relationship she said.
“I would definitely attend [an event like this] again and invite my friends too, because there is always something new to be learned about relationships,” Patterson said.