- Stackhouse, Rebecca
Relationship Smarts provides an opportunity for positive youth development. This program helps youth to develop healthy skills to make romantic relationship decisions through showing them healthy ways of being treated and treating others. In the efforts to help educate youth across Crisp County on the importance of healthy relationships, the FACS Extension agent taught in-school and out-of-school programs.
Middle school dating relationships are important because they affect adolescents’ future relationships. Younger relationships are more susceptible to peer pressure because youth are still developing self and learning senses. While some youth have an opportunity to witness positive role models and learn positive couple relationships, often they are exposed to negative and often abusive interactions by poor role models. According to the CDC, 13% of females and 7.4% of males in adolescent relationships have experienced physical dating violence one or more times within the last 12 months. This reveals an alarming amount of unhealthy relationship behavior patterns happening during adolescence. These unhealthy relationship behaviors coupled with technology can result in cyberbullying and cyberstalking.
Research shows that educational programs on healthy relationships can help youth develop positive skills for dating relationships. The UGA Extension FACS Agent implemented three series of the Relationships Smarts Program, including two out of school programs and one in-school program. Each series was comprised of 6 to 13 lessons from the Relationship Smarts 4.0 curriculum. Each lesson was 45 to 90 minutes in length and included workbooks, lecture, hands-on learning activities and in-depth discussions. The lessons objectives were to help youth identify their own values, understand a foundation for healthy relationships, understand unhealthy versus healthy dating relationships, develop effective communication and conflict management skills and understand their own impact.
A total of 72 Crisp County Youth participated in the Relationship Smarts program. This included 20 youth during an in-school Health Class and 52 youth reached through after-school programming at Crisp County Middle School. Of the 72-participating youth, 56 (77.8%) graduated from the program, meaning they completed 75% of the curriculum. Evaluations revealed that 77% of participants were likely or very likely to use the skills learned, 80.3% felt the program was helpful or very helpful, 70.3% would recommend the program to their friends, and 71.7% reported feeling better about themselves after the series. One participant said, “There is always a way to solve things.” Another respondent stated, “Well what I liked most about the program was the encouragement to communicate with our parents anytime, and don’t be afraid. I also liked that we could communicate with each other [during the content delivery].”
Youth & Family Development
- Year: 2020
- Geographic Scope: County
- County: Crisp
- Location: College Station, Athens
- Family and Consumer Sciences