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Story in Brief

Healthy relationships provide an opportunity for positive youth development, but for unprepared youth, romantic relationships can lead to unhealthy risks. To educate youth on the importance of developing positive and healthy relationships, the Jasper County 4-H agent administered eight lessons from the “Relationship Smarts” curriculum to 106 students at Jasper County High School. The lessons focused on maturity issues and values, attractions and infatuation, the foundations of healthy relationships, making clear decisions when faced with challenges, dating violence and breaking up, skills to improve communication and conflict management, and the impact of technology and social media on relationships and themselves. Three-fourths of the participants felt that they were either a little more confident or a lot more confident than before the program in establishing healthy relationships. One student said of the program, “It will help me better explain and express my ideas, thoughts, and feelings to loved ones” while another added that “this program will help me know if I’m in a good relationship and have a better future.” Many students referenced common themes in written comments, such as making better choices in the future, identifying bad signs or red flags in a relationship, being able to identify abuse better, developing stronger coping skills, handling arguments in healthier ways, and being more aware of the dangers of what they post or share through text messages and online through social media.