RCASA’s Wednesday Outreach: Adolescent Prevention Curriculum’s

In Advocacy, Education, Outreach, Prevention, Sexual Assault Awareness on June 30, 2010 at 8:00 am

Launched nationally in May 2006, CDC’s Choose Respect initiative has come a long way in a short time. Findings from the 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicated that approximately one in 11 high school students reported being victims of physical dating violence during the 12 months preceding the survey, equating to nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide (1). Those victimized by a dating partner were more likely to engage in episodic heavy drinking, suicide attempts, physical fighting, and current sexual activity (1).

Recently the initiative was awarded the CINE Golden Eagle Award for the public service announcement (PSA) Just Talk.

Just Talk targets parents by encouraging them to learn about dating abuse, talk to their kids about how dating abuse can happen, and teach their kids how to choose respect in all their relationships. In English, Just Talk is available in 30- and 60-second lengths.

Choose Respect is an initiative that seeks to help adolescents form healthy relationships to prevent dating abuse before it starts. The initiative reaches out to adolescents, ages 11 to 14, at a time when they are still forming attitudes and beliefs that will affect how they are treated and how they treat others. The initiative also connects with parents, teachers, youth leaders, and other caregivers who influence the lives of young teens.

Dating violence in adolescents also has been linked to lifelong patterns of violence that carry over into other relationships (2). Healthy relationship skills can have a beneficial effect on the ability of adolescents to prevent dating violence (2).

Choose Respect provides information and support for communities seeking to foster a “Culture of Respect.” Focusing on adolescents between the ages of 11 and 14, Choose Respect provides educational information for the development of healthy relationships, skills for managing conflict, anger, and jealousy without violence.

Choose Respect encourages the early development of healthy attitudes, behaviors, and skills (e.g., negotiation or compromise) to help youth interact positively and treat others with respect. The initiative tools are designed to complement other community prevention strategies to change social norms and encourage healthy relationships.


  1. CDC. Physical dating violence among high school students—United States, 2003. MMWR 2006;55:532–5.
  2. Wekerle C, Wolfe DA. Dating violence in mid-adolescence: theory, significance, and emerging prevention initiatives. Clin Psychol Rev 1999;19:435–56.

The currciculm from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Choose Respect Campaign contains a DVD of two video programs and materials CD, with a Choose Respect discussion guide, PowerPoint slides, and appendices. These activities will motivate participants to come up with ways to promote healthy and respectful relationships in their community.

Choose Respect DVD – Causing Pain: Real Stories of Dating Abuse and Violence, is an award-winning program. This program features true stories of youth, parents, and professionals who have been in, or witnessed, abusive relationships. The video utilizes their experiences and insights so that youth and parents can recognize and prevent dating abuse in their own lives, or in the lives of others.

  • Adult version: 30 minute program
  • Youth version: 13 minute program

Causing Pain: Real Stories of Dating Abuse and Violence Discussion Guide CD

The discussion guide, and accompanying PowerPoint presentation, helps participants recall specific scenes and generate thoughtful conversations about indentifying warning signs and preventing abusive relationships. The discussion guide includes: background for session leaders, helpful hints for addressing the subject of dating abuse and violence, instructions for facilitating group discussions, and interactive activities.

  • Section One provides session leaders with the facts about dating abuse, healthy relationships, and helps with presentation and discussion preparation
  • Section Two aids in outlining the differences in presenting Choose Respect to a youth or adult group, and demonstrates how to get the discussion flowing with an icebreaker, setting ground rules for discussion, and presenting an overview of the Choose Respect initiative
  • Section Three gives participants a chance to talk about the characters in the video and the overall topic of dating abuse and healthy relationships through activities to promote Choose Respect

PowerPoint Presentation– Provides everything a presenter needs to engage the audience in conversation surrounding the components of Choose Respect and promote dialogue about healthy and positive relationships

Dating Abuse and Violence Discussion Handouts and Worksheets

The Causing Pain: Real Stories of Dating Abuse & Violence video is a recipient of two FREDDIE Awards for its content, educational value, originality and production quality, and was also nominated for an Emmy Award.

Safe Dates can be used as a dating abuse prevention tool for both male and female middle- and high-school students. Safe Dates would fit well within a health education, family life skills, or general life skills curriculum. The curriculum consists of five components:

• A nine-session dating abuse curriculum
• A play about dating abuse
• A poster contest
• Parent materials
• A teacher training outline

Because dating violence is often tied to the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, you may want to consider using Safe Dates in conjunction with alcohol and other drug prevention programs, as well as any other general violence prevention programs. A school counselor could offer Safe Dates as part of a support group or counseling/education program or it could be used in after school, community youth enrichment, and faith-based youth programs. Safe Dates could also be used as an intervention tool at domestic abuse or crisis centers, in juvenile diversion programs, and with victim support groups.

The goals of this program are

  • To raise student awareness of what constitutes healthy and abusive dating
  • To raise student awareness of dating abuse and its causes and consequences.
  • To equip students with the skills and resources to help themselves or friends in abusive dating relationships.
  • To equip students with the skills to develop healthy dating relationships, including positive communication, anger management, and conflict resolution.

Safe Dates is an evidence-based program with strong, long-term outcomes. It was the subject of substantial formative research in fourteen public schools in North Carolina using a rigorous experimental design. The program was found to be effective in both preventing and reducing perpetration among teens already using violence against their dates.

Adolescents participating in the program, as compared with those who did not participate, also reported:

  • less acceptance of dating violence
  • stronger communication and anger management skills
  • less gender stereotyping
  • greater awareness of community services for dating abuse

Researchers studied the same group of students four years after implementation and found that students who participated in the Safe Dates program reported 56 percent to 92 percent less physical, serious physical, and sexual dating violence victimization and perpetration than teens who did not participate in Safe Dates. The program has been found to be equally effective for males and females

Session 1: Defining Caring Relationships
Through a bingo game and class discussions, students are introduced to the Safe Dates program and they evaluate how they would like to be treated in dating relationships.

Session 2: Defining Dating Abuse
Through the discussion of scenarios and the review of statistics, students clearly define dating abuse.

Session 3: Why Do People Abuse?
Through large and small group discussions and the review of scenarios, students identify the causes and consequences of dating abuse.

Session 4: How to Help Friends
Through a decision-making exercise, a dramatic reading, and the introduction of the “Friend’s Wheel,” students learn why it is difficult to leave abusive relationships and how to help a friend if she or he is in an abusive relationship.

Session 5: Helping Friends
Through stories and role-playing, students practice effective skills for helping friends who are victims of abuse or confronting friends who are perpetrators of abuse.

Session 6: Overcoming Gender Stereotypes
Through a writing exercise, small-group discussions, and scenarios, students learn about gender stereotypes and how these stereotypes can affect dating relationships.

Session 7: Equal Power through Communication
Students learn the eight skills for effective communication and practice these skills in a variety of role-plays.

Session 8: How We Feel, How We Deal
Through the use of a feelings diary and a discussion of “hot buttons,” students learn effective ways to recognize and handle their anger, so it doesn’t lead to abusive behavior.

Session 9: Preventing Sexual Assault
Through taking a quiz and holding a caucus and a panel of their peers, students learn about the issue of sexual assault and how to prevent it from happening.

Dating Abuse Play
As part of the Safe Dates program, a forty-five-minute play about dating abuse and violence, which was written by high school drama students will be presented. Before presenting the play, RCASA will share local statistics on the prevalence of teen dating abuse. Following the performance,  the actors will lead discussions (preferably in small groups), with the audience about the issues presented in the play.

Poster Contest
Hosting a poster contest is a great way to reinforce the concepts learned in the curriculum. Posters on the theme of dating abuse prevention can be displayed in school hallways or other community buildings such as libraries, city hall or community centers, and shopping malls. Students can also use their posters when giving presentations to various school or community groups.

Parent Materials
As in every strong prevention effort, it is important to get your students’ parents or guardians involved in your Safe Dates program. Included with the curriculum is a parent education brochure that we can send to parents or keep on hand, in case we need to talk to a parent about this issue. There is also a parent letter that informs parents of the Safe Dates program.

Teacher Training Outline
RCASA is  multiplying our efforts by training others to use the Safe Dates curriculum. An outline for a three-hour training is provided in the curriculum. We will be hosting  training sessions for area schools and other other local community youth organizations.

In Touch With Teens Violence Prevention curriculum will be implemented in community based youth organizations. The eight-unit curriculum empowers youth to have healthy relationships by providing information about power and control, elements of healthy relationships and healthy sexuality, and media literacy as well as education on sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence. The curriculum further addresses the development of pro-social skills such as empathy, impulse control, effective communication, problem solving, and bystander accountability.

The In Touch With Teens curriculum was selected as one of five model youth-violence prevention programs in the United States  by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It was also selected as the relationship-violence curriculum for the ‘Life Skills for the 21st Century’ curriculum of the Los Angeles Unified School District

Unit 1-Roots of Violence: Global & Local

The purpose of this unit is to bring some understanding to teens regarding the root causes of violence occurring in broader society.

Unit 2-Roots of Violence: Power & Control

The purpose of this unit is to explore the dynamics of power and control within a relationship and to determine when behavior becomes abusive and harmful.

Unit 3-Relationship Violence

The purpose of this unit is to challenge commonly held myths teens have regarding frequency and severity of violence in their dating relationships. By altering their attitudes regarding violence and relationships, teens will take the first step toward affecting and promoting change.

Unit 4- Cycle of Violence

The purpose of this unit is to provide teens with the foundation for understanding the Cycle of Violence, and how it traps people in relationships. Knowing how the Cycle of Violence works will aid teens in recognizing and preventing potentially abusive relationships.

Unit 5-Sexual Harassment

The purpose of this unit is to help teens define and identify sexual harassment. It also encourages teens to talk about how harassment makes them feel, and assists teens in developing options and responses to sexual harassment.

Unit 6-Issues of Sexual Assault & Coercive Control

The purpose of this unit is to explore basic issues surrounding sexual assault. By challenging current beliefs about sexual assaults, the facilitator can guide students through a process of reeducation and help them to rethink commonly held misconceptions regarding sexual assault.

Unit 7-Media Impact on Gender & Violence

The purpose of this unit is to explore how media impacts violence in our society and influences our perceptions of ourselves and others.

Unit 8-Building Blocks of a Healthy Relationship

This unit will provide information for teens to help them establish criteria to determine what a healthy relationship is and ways to maintain healthy relationships.

All three of these curriculum’s are promising in Adolescent Prevention and RCASA is utilizing them all. Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information on any of these curriculum’s and how we can help you to implement them in your particular setting. 540.371.6771.


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