The Connection Between Domestic Violence and Bullying

Could That Bully Actually Be a Victim of Domestic Violence?

As we mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month, along with Bullying Prevention Month, it’s the perfect time to examine the connection between domestic violence and bullying. Studies show that children exposed to violence at home tend to participate in higher levels of physical bullying than young people who were not witnesses to violent behavior.

Domestic Violence Can Influence Child Bullies

Researchers from the University of Washington and Indiana University were among the first in the country to focus their study on the association between children who witnessed their parents or caregivers behaving violently towards each other and that child’s likelihood to bully other kids. It also drilled down to look at the type of violence the child witnessed as compared to the tactics the child used while bullying others. For example, if a child witnessed hitting and pushing at home, did they, in turn, hit and push others?

Overall, the study found that 34 percent of the children studied engaged in bullying, and 73 percent reported being the victim of some form of bullying in the previous year. Sadly, most of the bullies – a whopping 97 percent – said they themselves had been victims of bullying. The study concluded that children learn behaviors from their biggest influencers, which, in the majority of cases, are their caregivers or parents.

Civil Citation Program

For youth that are the perpetrators in a domestic violence incident, the Department of Juvenile Justice Civil Citation program may be an option, depending on the severity of the case. This allows juveniles to stay at YCC’s Residential Crisis Care program and receive counseling services instead of going to a lock-down facility and having a criminal record. 

Adolescent Domestic Batterers Typology Tool

One tool YCC uses to gather more information about youth who batter their family members is the Adolescent Domestic Batterers Typology Tool (ADBTT). ADBTT helps provide a framework for developing appropriate goal/treatment plans and utilize appropriate treatment options based on the youth’s risk of future domestic violence incidents.  

Trauma Continues to Grow                                                                                                

The emotional and psychological injuries from domestic violence and bullying can have longer impacts than physical wounds. Ron Bertie, outpatient therapist at the Youth Crisis Center in Jacksonville, said he is seeing an increasing number of adult clients who have never addressed the childhood trauma they experienced from violence or bullying. “At YCC, we don’t just treat the child, we treat the entire family in order to address their relationship issues, emotional scars, or trauma from growing up,” explains Bertie. “When adults have families and children, it can bring up emotional wounds that haven’t healed and are now resurfacing and negatively impacting their current family unit.”

It’s important to seek help if you or a family member is struggling with the impact of violence or bullying. The Youth Crisis Center’s Outpatient Behavioral Health program serves children ages 3 and up, including family members of any age. It provides counseling for a myriad of behavioral and mental health concerns through individual, family, group and couples counseling.

Outpatient Behavioral Health 

The program’s licensed mental health therapists and board-certified psychiatrists provide care for a variety of concerns, such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, behavioral issues and trauma. Individual, family and group therapy, psychiatric evaluations and medication management are provided onsite.

Warning signs of teenagers living with domestic abuse:

  • Poor grades, failing in school
  • Running away
  • Inability to express feelings
  • Property destruction
  • Violent outbursts

Warning signs of bullying:

  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Declining grades, loss interest of schoolwork
  • Self-destructive behaviors (e.g., hurting themselves, running away from home, talking about suicide)
  • Decreased self-esteem

Being aware of the symptoms and the developmental impact is a step toward advocacy and advancement in the treatment of children exposed to violence or bullying. If you recognize these symptoms, reach out to a mental health professional, a school counselor or someone in authority who can assist with addressing the problem. It’s time to stop the cycle of abuse for the health of everyone – at school, at home and at work.

Are you concerned about relationship issues with your child or between family members? The Youth Crisis Center’s Outpatient Behavioral Health program provides comprehensive mental health and psychiatric care to children as young as 3, as well as their families. Parents may receive individual and family counseling services regardless if their child is a YCC client. Click to learn more about 5 Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Relationships.

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5 Key Skills Young Adults Need to Successfully Live Independently

The Jim Moran Foundation Funds Critical Visual Arts Program for Youth

International Day of Non-Violence

Be a Peacemaker in a Conflict-Filled World

People complain about the evening news; it’s all bad news, there’s too much violence and it makes them feel helpless. It’s easy to see why. According to the Peace Alliance, 1.6 million deaths worldwide every year are the result of violence. It is one of the leading causes of death in every part of the world for people ages 15-44. These grim statistics also extend beyond the human cost. On average, the price tag for police, justice, corrections and the impact on productivity for homicide and robbery is $3,257 for each U.S. taxpayer, or $460 billion for the United States economy. 

Violence Is Preventable, Not Inevitable

There are plenty of education and self-defense classes to learn how to avoid being a victim, or what to do to fend off an attack, but the safest and most cost-effective approach is to prevent violence from happening in the first place. That may seem like a naïve wish, but there is growing evidence, according to The Prevent Institute (), that violence is “preventable, not inevitable”. Preventing violence is a critical health and cost issue for individuals, families and communities. 

International Day of Non-Violence

Recognizing the need for non-violence is at the heart of International Day of Non-Violence, marked each year on October 2, in honor of Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi led a non-violent civil disobedience movement and famously inspired non-violent movements for civil rights and freedom around the world. He is credited with saying, “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.”

Four Steps to Control Conflict

To prevent conflict from turning violent, experts suggest four steps to employ clear, empathetic communication:

Observations – Approach a problem with the facts, not your opinion. People are more likely to find common ground over a fact versus someone’s opinion. For example, “It’s midnight and I can hear your partying is still going strong,” addresses the facts of the situation versus, “It’s way too late for you to be having such a loud party.” 

Feelings – Identify your feelings without being confrontational or judgmental. For example, “Your dog is not leashed; I’m scared of dogs and it’s making me nervous.” Also, try to avoid projecting your feelings onto someone else by assuming how they may be feeling.

Needs – When our needs or the needs of others are addressed, it makes people feel heard and important. It also provides a clear understanding of what someone is asking from the other person or the situation. For example, if you want more time with your friend or partner, you can address it by saying, “I see that you have some free time tonight; I would love to catch up.” This keeps the focus on your needs without accusation that the person is not making you a priority.

Requests – For clear communication, it’s important to be transparent in what is wanted from a person or a situation. Conflict can occur when people aren’t honest, make demands or fail to provide real options. Initiate requests in a way that accommodates discussion, like, “I’m not enjoying this show; would you mind if we watched something else? We can find something we will both like.” It’s important to allow the other person to say no or propose an alternative.

Promote a Message of Peace

It’s also important to keep in mind that even if you do all of the above, you may not always get the answer you want. Practicing non-violence depends heavily on personal responsibility, taking ownership of your own feelings and letting others own theirs without judgement or hostility. Finally, take some time to encourage others to do something peaceful on International Day of Non-Violence. Meditate, pray, volunteer, or read or watch something that promotes a message of peace. Creating and maintaining peace in your household is a start, where everyone can do their part in promoting peace.

Are you concerned about relationship issues with your child or between family members? The Youth Crisis Center’s Outpatient Behavioral Health program provides comprehensive mental health and psychiatric care to children as young as 3, as well as their families. Parents may receive individual and family counseling services regardless if their child is a YCC client. Click to learn more about 5 Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Relationships.

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5 Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Relationships

Youth Crisis Center Teams With Feeding Northeast Florida To Fight Childhood Obesity

The Youth Crisis Center (YCC) and Feeding Northeast Florida are teaming up to combat  obesity in Jacksonville’s children.

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

About one in five children over six in the U.S. are considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Appearing on Thursday’s First Coast Connect, YCC Director of Strategic Partnerships Nina Lopez said many children are facing troubles that lead to poor dietary habits.

“In the clients we serve, children and families are dealing with common causes of obesity and this could stem from everything such as genetics, metabolism problems, environmental factors and what’s going on in the community in general, a lack of sleep maybe, bad eating habits and a lack of physical activities,” she said.

Feeding Northeast Florida CEO Frank Castillo said his group is working with YCC to help create a food pantry for at-risk children and their families with more healthy food options.

Many of the children live in so-called “food deserts” where healthy food options can be hard to come by.

Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at kmeerschaert@wjct.org, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax.

Photo used under Creative Commons license.

World Suicide Prevention Day

Something Was Wrong

Justice’s parents could tell, even as a child, that their bright and precocious daughter was struggling with something. They didn’t know what it was, and she couldn’t explain it. They had her tested for everything from ADD to autism and nothing showed up. When Justice turned 12, her behavior was so extreme that she had to be hospitalized, where she was then diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Her diagnosis, however, did not mean she was cured; and, over the next five years, her condition led to increasing conflicts with her family and additional hospitalizations. Her mother began to fear their home did not feel safe for the rest of the family, so Justice moved out. “A lot of the time – when I was going through my depression – I didn’t want to seem needy or ask for help,” explains Justice. “I wanted to handle it myself, but I really wasn’t handling it.”

The Village That Gave Her a Voice

Justice heard about the Youth Crisis Center’s Touchstone Village and was eager to see if she qualified for the program. Touchstone Village provides transitional living services to young adults ages 18-21 who may be homeless or in a variety of other situations that limit self-sufficiency. Residents live in their own efficiency-sized apartment for a monthly nominal fee. Residents also receive life skills training, career development training and academic monitoring and support. Mental health services are available as needed. The goal is to assist residents in developing skills necessary for self-sufficiency.

Justice qualified for an apartment, but it was the mental health counseling that was critical to helping her realize she needed to be responsible for her own future. She had to learn to take her medication and manage her depression and anxiety herself if she wanted to be independent and live on her own successfully. Justice finished high school, found a full-time job and enrolled as a part-time college student. “As an adult, if I don’t take care of myself and I lose my job, then I won’t be able to pay my bills or have a place to live,” acknowledges Justice. “I love being able to make my own decisions and buy what I want, so it’s very important that I stay on track.”

You Can’t Press Pause on Your Life

Justice encourages other young people and their families to be proactive about mental health. She believes that mental health issues should be addressed and managed at a young age, before a person needs hospitalization or begins to experience suicidal thoughts. According to the World Suicide Prevention Day website, suicide is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds. Justice admits it is hard for a young adult to ask for help. “You don’t want to appear different to your friends because you have to take medication or go to a counselor,” adds Justice. She says friends or family can be supportive by simply telling that person they are loved, appreciated and valued. For young adults battling depression, she encourages them to educate themselves, seek out counseling or medication, or even find a form of spiritualty. “You can’t pause your life because you have a mental illness or something,” insists Justice. “You have to be able to say, ‘Whatever happened to me is part of who I am. My life is what I make of it and I want mine to be great.’”

If you know of a young adult between the ages of 18 – 21 who is struggling to become self-reliant and independent, YCC can provide transitional living services through our Touchstone Village program. Click to learn more about Touchstone Village and the 5 Skills Young Adults Need to Successfully Live Independently.

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5 Key Skills Young Adults Need to Successfully Live Independently

Family Is Where You Find It

Most people would admit to preferring the company of happy people over grumps. But did you know that happiness is contagious and can spread to an entire group of people from just one happy person? National Happiness Happens Day encourages us to recognize happy moments and think about happiness in our daily lives. This “happy-holiday” encourage us to remember the joy we create for ourselves and others.

To share some healthy happiness, residents at the Youth Crisis Center’s (YCC) Touchstone Village, a transitional living program that provides services to young adults still developing self-sufficiency skills, were treated to a “family night” at Bowl America. “We know that many of our residents struggle with healthy and happy relationships,” said Cecelia Stalnaker-Cauwenberghs, LMHC and Director of Program Services at YCC. “So, we want to create opportunities that encourage an environment where they can develop a sense of family, to feel what it’s like to trust, support and bond with each other.

Researchers say a happy family environment, no matter the size, genetic relation or how the members came to be a family, creates a healthy life for everyone involved.

4 Reasons Why Family Time Is Happy Time

Families Who Play Together Stay Together
Family time is an important bonding experience, which deepens relationships. Play is a way to work out family issues, relieve stress and create opportunities for teamwork, which is helpful in coping with stressors like finance, health issues and busy schedules.

Making Merry Memories
It’s important to create environments where happy memories can occur. Families come in all shapes and sizes, so providing a variety of healthy experiences will help give blended families a common goal and mutually-fond memories, especially if the family unit has challenges to overcome when together.

It’s Okay to Be Sorry
When family members or a family unit gather, it’s possible that someone will say something hurtful or annoying. It’s important to spend enough time together to make those mistakes and learn how to apologize and forgive each other. If time isn’t invested to first establish trust, it’s hard to turn to those underdeveloped skills later.

Bonding for Better Behavior
Parents should not only teach rules and good behavior to children at home, but also take children into the outside world to practice socializing and interacting with others. Activities that provide time to talk, laugh and compete all help the bonding experience. Correcting behavior like being a bad sport, or not following rules or etiquette, affords low-pressure teaching opportunities for parents, siblings or friends to model.

Make sure to put the fun in your family time; even deciding what to do can turn into a fun activity. If you need an idea, the residents at Touchstone Village say they are heading to Skate Station next month!

If you know of a young adult between the ages of 18 – 21 who is struggling to become self-reliant and independent, YCC can provide transitional living services through our Touchstone Village program. Click to learn more about Touchstone Village and the 5 Skills Young Adults Need to Successfully Live Independently.

Download our free ebook!

5 Key Skills Young Adults Need to Successfully Live Independently

Minority Mental Health Month

Young people face many potentially overwhelming challenges, including peer pressure, cyber bullying and grade anxiety. For some, these problems are further exacerbated by a mental illness, posing a simultaneous challenge to their maturation, development of life management skills and emotional stability.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that 21% of young adults have a mental illness. Categorized as 18- to 25-year-olds, this young adult group has the highest rate of mental illness among adults. Mental health issues in young adults can result in delayed development, strained relationships and a struggle for self-sufficiency.

“We make an effort to reach out to, and welcome, young people from various backgrounds, cultures, races, genders and sexual orientations. Whether they need transitional living services, mental health counseling or both, we create personal plans to match their needs,” said Cecelia Stalnaker-Cauwenberghs, LMHC and Director of Program Services at Youth Crisis Center (YCC).

YCC’s Touchstone Village provides transitional living services to young adults ages 18-21 who are homeless or in situations which limit their self-sufficiency. While help is readily available at YCC and Touchstone Village, sometimes the challenge is getting young people to ask for it, particularly those in a minority community. Touchstone Village is not exclusively for those struggling with a mental illness, young adults requiring additional services can receive them while still feeling a sense of inclusion and community. Currently, 75% of Touchstone residents identify as a minority, based on race or gender identity. 

Minority Mental Health Month

Minority Mental Health Month started in 2008 to bring awareness to the unique struggles that under-represented groups face in regard to mental illness. Mental health is viewed differently among various individuals and families, depending on their values, beliefs, sexual orientations, race, ethnicity, language or religious background. Any stigmas are often passed on to the younger members of the population. Culturally, taking care of mental health issues can be seen as a weakness, more so in the Asian, Latino and African American communities. 

Lack of Diverse Therapists

For members of a diverse population, it can pose a challenge to comfortably discuss emotional or mental health issues with a therapist or doctor that does not share their own appearance or cultural experience. There is a sense that the profession remains dominated by white counselors and minority clients struggle to find professionals who they can identify with culturally.

YCC tries to ease the stigma and break down barriers for Touchstone Village residents. They provide a diverse representation of program staff and therapists. Additionally, therapists are required to take cultural sensitivity training annually. “Acknowledging they are not alone and seeking out assistance is the first step for Touchstone Village residents to gain independence and confidence in a culturally sensitive manner,” said Kim Sirdevan. “Then, they can follow a care plan and tackle challenges other young people face without losing their independence.”

If you know of a young adult between the ages of 18 – 21 who is struggling to become self-reliant and independent, YCC can provide transitional living services through our Touchstone Village program. Click to learn more about Touchstone Village and the 5 Skills Young Adults Need to Successfully Live Independently

Download our free ebook!

5 Key Skills Young Adults Need to Successfully Live Independently

YCC and the use of Civil Citations

Do Civil Citations work? Is the program seeing success? First Coast Connect guest host, Charlene Shirk and Juvenile Director of the 4th Judicial District State Attorney’s Office, Laura Lambert discuss these issues with YCC’s President and CEO, Kim Sirdevan. Click below to listen to the latest discussion regarding the use of Civil Citations instead of arresting youth in Jacksonville.

 

What is Touchstone Village?

18 Years Old, Alone and Afraid

When Andrew was 18 years old, he found himself adrift. A high school dropout, at odds with his dad, he left home with no real knowledge about how to take care of himself. “I was on the streets,” explains Andrew. “I was just lost and alone.” Andrew saw some of his friends using drugs and he knew he needed to turn his life around. A friend from high school suggested he contact the Youth Crisis Center (YCC) – they had a place called Touchstone Village on their Jacksonville campus.

What is Touchstone Village?

Touchstone Village provides transitional living services to young adults, ages 18-21, who may be homeless or in other situations that limit self-sufficiency. Each resident has a fully-furnished, efficiency-sized apartment for an income-based monthly fee. Residents also receive life skills training, career development, and academic monitoring and support. Mental health services are available as needed. The goal is to assist residents in developing skills necessary for self-sufficiency.

From the Wilderness to Wonderful

Andrew contacted YCC and successfully passed the application, interview process and orientation. Within months, he began working on the program requirements: getting his high school diploma, maintaining employment and working toward financial stability. The life skills classes taught him how to cook, clean, save money and file his taxes. “They woke me up to reality,” said Andrew. “They made me realize the world was more than being homeless.” Like most Touchstone Village residents, Andrew needed to learn how to establish personal goals and what it takes to build healthy, trusting relationships. Andrew is also rebuilding his relationship with his family, who says they are proud of him.

Building A Foundation for the Future

Some residents come to Touchstone Village because of homelessness; others need a transition from their parents’ home before living independently. “Some young adults take longer to develop life skills, are not emotionally ready, or need mental health counseling in addition to learning how to live independently,” adds Kim Sirdevan, YCC’s president and CEO. A Transition Living Specialist provides training to help residents apply for college/vocational education, connect with jobs, learn financial responsibility, and master other skills they’ll need once they leave Touchstone Village.

“Independence” Day

Andrew will head to boot camp just days before July 4, 2018 – Independence Day. Now 20 years old, he says his time at Touchstone Village gave him the chance to rethink what he wanted to accomplish. He is determined to do something positive, possibly in law enforcement, so he can help make the world a safer place – like the safety he says he found at Touchstone Village. 

If you know of a young adult between the ages of 18 – 21 who is struggling to become self-reliant and independent, YCC can provide transitional living services through our Touchstone Village program. Click to learn more about Touchstone Village and the 5 Skills Young Adults Need to Successfully Live Independently

Download our free ebook!

5 Key Skills Young Adults Need to Successfully Live Independently

Why Girls are More Likely Than Boys to Suffer in Silence

Numerous studies, spanning decades, have found that girls talk more often – and earlier – than boys. So, when girls are suddenly quiet or withdrawn, it truly can be a cause for concern.

“Boys act out externally – they are more aggressive or destructive, and their behavior is directed outwards toward others,” explains Sterling Hurst, SNAP® Program Coordinator at the Youth Crisis Center. “But when something is bothering or troubling a girl, her behavior is directed inwards. They internalize more and socially withdraw themselves.”

Warning Signs
Some behaviors girls will exhibit when struggling with an emotional issue will include:

  • Sad, nervous or irritable behavior
  • Changes in their eating habits and sleeping patterns
  • Trouble keeping focus
  • Feelings of loneliness or guilt

What To Do
Hurst cautions parents not to jump into what he calls “detective mode” if they see these signs or suspect something is bothering their daughters. The first step he suggests is to start paying attention and observing whether these behaviors are becoming significant or habitual. The next step is to ask questions, but ask them in an open ended format and be patient. He cautions that parents probably won’t get an answer on the first try.

“Stay calm and let them open up in their own time,” insists Hurst. “Position it in a way that they know they can come back to you when they are ready. Use language like, ‘I understand you don’t want to talk about what’s going on, but if you want to talk about it later, I am here.’”

Hurst says these gender differences is why YCC’s SNAP program is gender specific. Facilitators and parents can address the challenges facing girls and boys with different approaches.

What is SNAP®
SNAP®, which stands for STOP NOW AND PLAN, is an evidence-based program that focuses on how a child thinks, as well as why they are acting out. Developed at the Child Development Institute (CDI), SNAP® is a free program that helps troubled children and their parents learn how to effectively manage their emotions and “keep problems small”.

The SNAP® program is focused on children ages 6-11 who are engaging in aggressive, anti-social behavior and/or have come into negative contact with authority figures at school or in the community. Experienced and highly trained staff works with each family to assess challenges and problems and develop an action plan. The goal is to prevent future anti-social behavior and reduce the chances of conflict with family, peers and authority figures.

Hurst adds that the problems facing young girls often come from either a bullying situation at their school, or feeling ignored or neglected at home.

“Parents are so busy these days. Often, when the young girl in the home wants attention or to talk, it’s not a good time for mom or dad,” remarks Hurst. “Girls will often take that to heart and begin to withdraw.”

SNAP® has trained facilitators that are prepared to provide the tools to help girls, boys and their families work through behavioral issues, whether they stem from school or home.

If you think your child is exhibiting problematic behavior and can benefit from the free SNAP® program, click HERE to read more about the “Six Signs That Your Child May Have Behavioral Problems”.

To learn more about SNAP® click HERE.

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 “Six Signs That Your Child May Have Behavioral Concerns.”