Sacramento youth conference to focus on healthy relationships

02/22/2013 12:00 AM

02/25/2013 8:54 AM

More than 250 teenagers will learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships at the Power of Know Youth Conference on Saturday.

"It could be when one partner texts the other 500 times a day," said organizer Alice Wong. "You might think 'He or she loves me so much,' when this is actually an unhealthy control issue on finding out where you're at."

February is "teen dating violence awareness and prevention" month, Wong said, and kids will get a chance to act out scenarios and discuss appropriate boundaries.

"A healthy way to start a relationship is to show your partner respect and not manipulate them," Wong said. "Manipulation can include getting pregnant, or getting your partner pregnant to try to keep them in the relationship."

Wong said kids will be asked to decide whether 20 scenarios are a red light or a green light, including "when I ask my boyfriend where he was, he reacts by yelling and throwing things violently," or "my partner demands all of my passwords" or "I see bruises on my friend ever since they started dating."

The conference will also deal with cyberbullying, and how to ask for help or give help, Wong said.

"One out of four teens are bullied and tens of thousands of kids stay home from school daily to avoid it," Wong said. "One mom in Southern California went on a crusade because a bunch of senior boys threatened to rape her daughter, shoot her in the head and posted a threatening video on Facebook."

The mom contacted the police who went to the school, but school authorities refused to impose any punishment, the rationale being that it didn't take place at school, Wong said. "There are not adequate laws around the country to protect the schools or the students, so we try to empower the students to help themselves and each other."

One solution is to get kids to be safe school ambassadors. They would receive special training on conflict resolution and bullying and learn how to speak up for the victim, Wong said. "Some kids are bullied so much, they end up committing suicide."

Kids can talk to their friends, parents and school counselors, Wong said. While the kids are receiving training, their parents will get tips on how to identify unhealthy behavior and how to talk about bullying.

About 75 percent of the kids who have signed up are Asian or Pacific Islanders, the majority from Southeast Asia, Wong said. "There are fewer resources, more socio-economic barriers and often less communication between parents and children. We have a large Hmong parent group attending the conference."

The conference is being sponsored by the nonprofit CAPITAL Foundation, which has been addressing healthy relationships since 2005. "You can say 'no' to unhealthy relationships and bullying," Wong said, "and know the potential impact of your words and actions."

The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Charles A. Jones Skills Center, 5451 Lemon Hill Ave., Sacramento. The conference Facebook page is tinyurl.com/powerofknow2013fb. For more information, call (916) 443-7398.

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