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Healthy Relationships:


2000 - The Healthy Relationships Curriculum published by Men For Change is currently being used in a wide variety of applications in youth education across North America. The following implementations offer insight into the depth and versatility of the program.
Preventing Juvenile Offender Violence
- Los Angles, California

Each year, 60,000 juvenile offenders in Los Angeles County are taught by educators working in the Los Angeles County Office of Education, Juvenile Court and Community Schools (LACOE JCCS) division. Co-developers Peter Davison and Andrew Safer conducted training sessions for 70 LACOE JCCS educators and administrators in August, 1997, March, 1998 and May, 1999. Healthy Relationships is now being implemented as a pilot program in two juvenile detention halls, eight community education centers, and one shelter for abused children.

When asked why this program was selected, JCCS's Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Dolores Richie said: "This curriculum on anger and violence is a natural extension of our program to teach responsibility and conflict resolution to youth at risk." She emphasized as particularly beneficial the curriculum's emphases on understanding aggression, exploring emotions and dealing with gender issues related to violent behavior.

"It's critical that young people in our programs address these issues to prevent future violence," Dr. Richie said. "It's also beneficial for our teachers. By going through the training, they are better able to model the kinds of behaviors that will promote peaceful conflict resolution and anger management. A future goal would be to offer the Healthy Relationships training to all JCCS teachers."

Relationships are Key to Health
- Andover, Massachusetts

The Andover Public Schools Health Education program has been using Healthy Relationships for three years as a significant component of the schools' 28-session Health course. Says Health Education Program Coordinator Brenda O'Brien: "We want less of an emphasis on human anatomy and physiology and more on human relationships and the concept of self. Our prejudice is to move more towards yours rather than the anatomical, which doesn't mean anything to kids. But they do remember relationships and deconstructing stereotypes.

My staff has valued it, and supports its use. I know they would be looking for something else if they felt it was missing the mark. They're astute in choosing materials, particularly because of the limited amount of time that's available...This is an outstanding resource that we have utilized as one of the dominant parts of our Health curriculum, and we recommend it to all schools."

Battered Women's Outreach Service
- Pembroke, Ontario

The Bernadette McCann House for Women and Children is a women's shelter that vets curriculum materials related to family violence for two school boards. After reviewing Healthy Relationships and finding it "excellent", Family Violence Worker Annette Kinslow said: "We're finding that this curriculum really came through for the Grade 7s and Grade 8s, and it's really preparing them for what they'll be facing in the high schools." She figures that at least 12 teachers have been using the program, which is signed out on request.

"We have eight copies and they're gone; they're always out in the schools."

Learning to Recognize Abuse
- Brooklyn, New York

Lakeside Family and Children's Services is a child welfare agency in New York City that has developed both a 12-week program and an extended 22-week program based on Healthy Relationships that has been delivered to girls living in group homes who have suffered abuse and neglect.

The domestic violence coordinator, Jennifer Bloomfield, who sits on the New York City interagency Task Force on Domestic Violence, reports that the curriculum is helping the girls to recognize the signs of violence in relationships. One girl who completed the 12-week course told Jennifer that she had decided to terminate her relationship because she realized it was violent. She then went on to take the 22-week course.

When it ended, she reported that her new boyfriend had just slapped her for the first time, and that she was going to end that relationship, too, before it had a chance to escalate. Jennifer saw this as an indication that a greater exposure to the curriculum deepened this girl's understanding of abuse because she was able to recognize it at an earlier stage.

The girls in one extended course made their own video in which they acted the key roles of batterer, victim and psychologist. Jennifer reports that this was an extremely positive experience which helped boost the girls' self-esteem. She adds: "What a wonderful impact your program has had!"

YWCA Enhances Juvenile Court Training
- Austin, Texas

University YWCA Prevention Educator Karen Hunt teaches an eight-session course based on Healthy Relationships to young offenders. Youth who complete the course and do community service avoid probation.

Karen says the Anger Iceberg is an excellent way to begin the course and suggests referring back to it in subsequent sessions. She adds that the activity on Managing Stress encourages young people to come up with positive ways to deal with the stresses in their lives, including listening to music, talking to a friend, and exercising. She has modified the activity on Marketing Addictions by bringing in copies of Rolling Stonemagazine and asking the young people to look through the magazines to see how addictions are marketed. She reports that this session is very well received.

Overall, she said the curriculum "is a concrete presentation of some pretty complex ideas, and that's really helpful to have. What I'm seeing is that the dialogue has begun. It's becoming a consistent theme, which I think is really powerful. There's a lot of potential here for behavior change."

Newspaper Articles are Though Provoking
- Ogden, Utah

Shirley Brown-Miller is the Education Intervention Specialist who runs a group in a youth corrections facility for females. She reports that the activities go over well because they are interactive, and says that the classes are offering many of the girls their first opportunity to discuss the different kinds of abuse. She adds that the newspaper articles in Volume Two are "very current for the age group. They are thought-provoking, which helps to get the discussion going." Finally, she finds Healthy Relationships user friendly: "What I like about your curriculum is that you have very brief lines for script. I can just pick it up and really go into it. You've done all the hard work."

Flexible for Use with Youth on Probation
- McMinnville, Oregon

Officer Carol Reid with the McMinnville Police Department found out about the curriculum by doing a search on the World Wide Web. She has been teaching activities from Healthy Relationships to teens between 13 and 17 years of age who are in lock-up on probation violations at the Yamhill County Detention Center. Since she is working in a small town she knows many of the young people in her classes. She praises the flexibility of the program which allows her to change lessons at the last minute to tailor her presentation to the meet the needs of those who are in attendance that evening.

"I enjoy the lessons which lead to lively class discussions," says Officer Reid. "I appreciate that the lessons are participatory. So far, the Personal Boundaries and Sexual Harassment lessons in Volume Three have been my best sessions."

Gender Stereotypes and Violence
- Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia

Cavalier Drive School Guidance Counselor Judy Farnell has taught Healthy Relationships in English, Health, and Family Studies classes for more than three years. In fact, she contributed a violence survey that appears in the curriculum. She got started by fitting Healthy Relationships into the existing Personal Development and Relationships component of Health and then she introduced it in the other subjects.

One of Judy's students responded to an assignment about gender stereotypes and expectations as follows: "Being a man in our society today may be very unhealthy. For instance, if the woman thinks we should act or smell just a certain way she may be disappointed that the man she is dating is not a 'real man' and is 'outside the box'. If a woman thinks of a man that way it may lead to an unhealthy relationship. It may also be hard to be a woman if a man's expectations of her are not fulfilled. Then he may get abusive."

Judy is team teaching this class with Health Teacher Debbie Young. Debbie offered this observation when asked about the effects of the curriculum: "Some of the girls in the Grade 8 class had boyfriends who are older, who very much control their movements and who get very upset if they spend time with this person or that person. You could hear them discussing it after class.

Some of it is sinking in. It kind of sinks in where it's needed. It's the kind of topic that kids haven't been exposed to before."

Published by Men For Change
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