Developmentally, one of the ways adolescents explore who they are is through romantic relationships. How adolescents approach these relationships is influenced by the relationships modeled around them. While some youth may have witnessed and learned about positive couple interactions from good models, many may have witnessed only poor models of couple relationships. Educational programs on healthy relationships can help youth develop skills to make smart relationship choices and avoid risky behaviors. The decision-making and relationship-building skills youth can learn through this programming can also spill-over into other relationships with parents, peers, and teachers.
Relationship Smarts is a research-based curriculum that incorporates hands-on activities to focus on skills and knowledge necessary for healthy dating relationships. The curriculum, developed by The Dibble Institute, offers developmentally appropriate information that address identity development, personal goals and values, what healthy (vs abusive) relationships look like, current relationship dynamics, important communication skills, and the promotion of future-orientated thinking about relationships.
Since 2008, 65 county Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H Extension agents across 50 counties, as well as 151 community professionals from 10 counties have been trained by UGA Extension in the Relationship Smarts (RS+) program. Since 2009, 3445 youth across 33 counties have participated in a RS+ class offered by UGA Extension. Overall, participating youth have reported increases in knowledge, confidence that they can use the skills learned, likeliness to use these skills, and positive feelings about themselves. Click on the link below for more information about the impact UGA Extension is having on youth across Georgia.
UGA Cooperative Extension is working with the GA Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Family and Children Services, the GA Department of Public Health, and the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Control (GCAPP) to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Programs focused on healthy relationship development and sex education are being offered to high risk youth ages 10-19 through after-school programs in 10 counties across Georgia.
As a parent, you know that the topics of relationships and sex are important ones to discuss with your children. But just because the topic is important does not make it easy to talk about. These publications, a part of the “Principles of Parenting” series, offer tips for helping you talk with your teen in ways that will help him or her make wise and healthy choices.