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City budget addresses bullying epidemic

City budget addresses bullying epidemic

Update: City council approved the money for these programs on 9/15/2016.

SAN ANTONIO – With the school year now underway, the city of San Antonio is taking steps to prevent bullying and teen dating violence.

More than $800,000 are set aside in next year’s proposed budget for agencies with programs fitting those missions.

The two issues have become epidemics in our schools. Nationally, one out of every four students reports being bullied during the school year. Here in Bexar County, one in five high school girls reports being in a violent relationship.

“We build it and we just hold it in,” says a 16-year-old girl who we’re calling Aubrey for her safety.

She lives at The Bridge, an emergency shelter for teens.

"They make us feel like we're at home,” Aubrey says.

She escaped a violent parent. Some kids at the shelter endured violent relationships.

"One of the girls that was here, her boyfriend would beat her and stuff,” Aubrey says.

Others were bullied in schools.

"Seeing [my friend] come home every day, crying,” Aubrey says.

They’re growing up at a time when keyboards are weapons.

"It is different. Like, major. I think with the technology we have, it causes problems,” Aubrey says.

But she says many adults simply don’t understand.

"Sometimes we can't always just sit down and verbally talk to y'all. Because that's the thing. It's so hard,” Aubrey says.

That’s why shelter managers at Roy Maas Youth Alternatives say it’s vital to fund programs that are geared toward teens.

"The reason the budget's important is because a budget is the actual reflection of somebody's values,” director Bill Wilkinson says.

And in next year’s budget, the city has marked more than $800,000 for agencies with programs to fight bullying and violence. City council will approve the final budget September 15.

"It's got to be a coordinated effort from everybody who has funds available,” Wilkinson says.

Aubrey is learning to trust again – and learning she deserves to be treated with respect.

"I like talking to my therapist,” she says. "You can't depend on nobody, but you but sometimes you need help. Everybody needs a little bit of help."

By EMILY BAUCUM

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