ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Family advocacy managers, domestic violence counselors, and volunteer Airmen from Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, visited Altus High School to bring awareness about the dangers of teen dating violence, Feb. 22, 2023.
With February being Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, family and mental health counselors from AAFB took their resources to Altus High School. They emphasized the importance of setting boundaries, introducing a partner to a peer or family member, and leaving a situation when signs of abuse start to show.
Angelnette Clanton, AAFB’s family advocacy program assistant, led the team of civilians and Airmen to connect with teenagers and explain how to spot signs of emotional abuse, physical abuse and human trafficking.
“Eleven to 24 years old is a vulnerable stage,” she said. “When you don’t have the tools, beliefs, or support system to break that cycle of abuse, you will settle in it. That’s why we have to tell them ‘you don’t have to go through this, you can make better choices’ and I hope through that, we can reach at least one that needs help.”
Clanton was joined by Susan Bradford, 97th Air Mobility Wing violence prevention analyst, who led the students in an activity to define words like “empathy” and “honesty.” Bradford also shared advice on what to do when abusive signs start to enter a relationship.
“Our goal is to get the education out there to somebody,” Bradford said. “We might reach 50 or we might reach two. As long as we give them the ability to come forward and know that it’s okay to ask for help, that’s what matters.”
After Bradford spoke, Special Agent Keitha Whitaker, an Office of Special Investigations agent, taught the teens how to identify human traffickers in the computer age by looking for questions like, “Are you alone?” or “Do you want to move this into a private chat?”
Many students who attend Altus High School are children of military families. Presenting the dangers of online chatting is one way the counselors of AAFB are helping to keep the families of the base and in the community safe.
“We have a lot of our military families' children attending these schools,” Clanton said. “Sometimes a student is struggling and they don’t know who they can talk to, we want to let them know those connections are out there in teachers or principals. They’re safe and we want you to go see them.”