This toolkit is designed to help FYSB Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (APP) grantees who want to incorporate adolescent relationship abuse (ARA) prevention into their existing APP programming.  Whether grantees are newly funded or have been implementing project activities for one or more years, this toolkit provides practical tools for grantees to choose from and adapt to best fit their projects and participants.

This toolkit also provides guidance for grantees about selecting from the available tools and ensuring high-quality implementation of ARA prevention approaches. Different tools may be useful for grantees at different stages of their project and for grantees with different goals and levels of funding. This toolkit describes when, how, and why tools should be used if ARA is being addressed. Grantees are encouraged to share this toolkit with their sub-awardees.

This toolkit is designed to guide grantees who want to incorporate ARA prevention into their programming through this process from start to finish. It is structured in four sections.  These steps are depicted in the flowchart below.

Flowchart: Incorporating ARA Into Existing APP Programming

The first section, Organizational Readiness and Planning, is devoted to grantee and sub-awardee organizational readiness and planning steps to address ARA, which are especially important for grantees or sub-awardees who have never addressed ARA before. Grantees will find information on developing a project plan, strengthening partnerships with relevant organizations, and developing policies and procedures related to ARA prevention and response.

The second section, Selection and Adaptation of Materials, provides tools and practical guidance about selecting materials, including specific lessons and multi-session curricula, to address ARA.  Strategies for selecting materials, as well as guidance about making adaptations to existing APP programs or selected ARA prevention materials to best meet project needs, are also included.

The third section, Preparation for Implementation, includes tools to help grantees prepare for implementation of ARA prevention approaches, including orientation and training of selected staff. This section also provides resources related to ARA prevention and response that grantees can use and adapt for their target audiences, including youth and parents. 

The fourth section, Monitoring and Evaluation, provides tools that can be used to monitor or evaluate ARA prevention approaches, including those related to evaluation planning and assessment of potential outcomes for participants who receive ARA prevention activities.

The appendix offers Additional Resources, which grantees can use for reference and to enhance their staff’s knowledge about ARA.


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1. Organizational Readiness and Planning

Who should use this section:

  • grantees who have never worked on ARA prevention;
  • grantees who have new staff who need to be educated on ARA and prevention; and
  • grantees who never formalized their policies and procedures related to ARA and prevention.

Successfully incorporating ARA prevention into APP programming will largely depend on the readiness of the grantee organization (and sub-awardee organizations). For example, the following elements should be assessed when grantees want to address ARA: willingness to accept a new ARA prevention approach, the buy-in of key leaders, the buy-in of staff, and a favorable history with similar efforts (e.g., previous project success). An implementation plan is always an important first step. It is also critical to connect with organizations in the community who have expertise in ARA prevention and develop clear policies and procedures for handling cases of disclosure, including questions of confidentiality and mandatory reporting.

1.1. Plan an Approach

Grantees who choose to begin planning their organization’s or project’s approach to incorporating ARA prevention into APP programming should clearly identify the issues and specific behaviors and topics they want to address, set achievable goals and define success upfront, establish a clear budget, determine the type and extent of activities they will incorporate, and create a realistic timeline. Drafting a written implementation plan or revising an existing implementation plan can help ensure that all stakeholders (including the FYSB project officer) are informed about selected activities and the rationale for the planned approach. Implementation plans are best developed at the beginning of the process, even if all details are not clear yet; the implementation plan may include information about involving a partner organization with expertise to help with further planning. The plan should be updated as changes or improvements are made.

To illustrate ways APP grantees could put these tips into practice, two sample project plans are provided below. Grantees are encouraged to adapt elements of these plans to fit their process of planning ARA prevention activities.

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1.2. Invest in Relationships

Grantee organizations that choose to incorporate ARA prevention into APP programming may need to partner early in the process with other organizations, including domestic violence (DV) and sexual assault (SA) organizations in the community. 

Strong partnerships with DV/SA organizations will benefit grantee projects by

Getting Acquainted

Partnering with other organizations involves two phases: getting acquainted and then deepening the relationship in order to work together to implement ARA prevention activities. Successful collaborations involve creating connections between people and organizations toward shared goals, sometimes where none previously existed. 

Grantees addressing ARA should invite ARA experts from the community to participate in discussions or planning. When grantee projects are state-wide or multi-site, the state or Tribal domestic and sexual violence coalition might be the logical first contact. These coalitions can also help identify the community-based DV/SA organizations that should be included in early and ongoing collaborative efforts.

  • List of U.S. State/Territory & Tribal Domestic and Sexual Violence Coalitions HTML
    National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. (n.d.).
    This tool includes a list of state/territory and Tribal domestic and sexual violence coalitions. Grantees can search by state to identify contact information for coalitions.  This tool is likely to be most useful for grantees who do not already have connections with state-wide or local DV/SA organizations or that want to seek out additional partners for implementation of ARA prevention.

Grantees who partner with coalitions or their member programs should spend time sharing information about the APP project. It is important for grantees to make time to answer questions about their APP projects, including the specific activities that are planned or are already offered in the community.

Coalitions and their member programs can help grantees learn more about the scope and impact of ARA in the community. Grantees working with partners should make an effort to learn from partners about not only the impact of ARA in their communities, but also the intervention and prevention systems in place.

Deepening the Relationship

When grantees and their partners begin planning joint activities that have agreed upon objectives, the relationship can be formalized through a written document such as a letter of support, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), or contract.

A letter of support is the least formal type of written document but signals good will and intent to participate in the project. In contrast, an MOU expresses the specifics of how organizations will work together. It is not a legally binding document, but helps both parties understand their roles and commitments.

  • Brief Instructions for Creating an MOU, a Sample MOU, and a Sample Letter of Support PDF (3 p.)
    Author unknown. (2013).
    This tool outlines the recommended content for an MOU, including project goals and outcomes, timeline, roles and responsibilities for both lead and partnering agencies, and signatures. The tool then provides a sample MOU between a non-profit agency and a community-based organization; APP projects could adapt this text and tailor it to their projects and partnerships. Finally, for projects that would prefer to make a less formal agreement with partners, the tool provides a sample letter of support. This letter can be adapted for use in enlisting any type of partner in ARA prevention efforts.

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1.3. Develop Policies and Procedures

Discussing issues related to ARA will likely result in disclosures from youth participating in grantee projects. Before that happens, grantees should have policies and procedures in place to address these situations, and staff should be trained on these policies.

For each clearly defined policy, there must be corresponding procedures or protocols on how to apply the policy, how it is enforced, whom it affects, and who is in charge. For example:

  • A policy may state that staff must respond promptly and sensitively to any youth disclosing an incident of relationship abuse.
  • The corresponding procedures may explain the necessary steps, from assessing the youth’s immediate safety, to connecting the youth to the staff or referral agency who will discuss the youth’s options, to explaining whether and how parents will be involved and working with the youth to create a safety plan.
The tools provided in this section will help grantees proactively develop or amend policies and procedures related to ARA.

Clear, concise organizational policies and procedures

Grantees should have policies in place about responding to disclosures, mandated reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect, confidentiality and information sharing, and parental notification and involvement before providing ARA prevention content to project participants.

Grantees who choose to incorporate ARA prevention into their projects may find that they need to develop or reassess their organization or project policies to protect youth receiving services. 

Appendix A of this document presents a list of Web-based and hotline resources to address ARA. This list could be provided to implementers and/or participants, with or without the addition of local resources. Appendix B provides a planning worksheet that allows projects to specify the responsible parties, timelines, and required resources for the steps that are involved in drafting a safety and monitoring plan. Appendix C provides the template for a form that can be used to report serious events; APP projects may want to consider adding instructions for the completion and return of this form (e.g., when? to whom? how?) prior to distributing it to project staff.

Legal Resources for Mandatory Reporting and Confidentiality

Grantees may have an obligation under their state or Tribal community laws to report incidents of suspected child abuse or neglect.  Mandated reporting laws vary from state to state but generally apply to teachers, mental health counselors, clergy, health care providers, and legal professionals. Frontline staff need to understand laws regarding mandatory reporting and proper reporting protocols, including who is responsible for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect, imminent harm, sexual coercion, or statutory rape, and what kinds of disclosures require a report.

Tips for Discussing Conditional Confidentiality
adapted from Understanding Confidentiality and Minor Consent in California (1)

  • Be direct: Discuss confidentiality and the conditions under which it might be breached before a young person has an opportunity to disclose potentially reportable information.
  • Keep it simple: Tailor the discussion to the youth’s age and context.
  • Communicate caring and concern: Frame the need to breach confidentiality in the context of “getting them help that they might need” or “making sure they are safe,” rather than using the law, policy, or a phrase like “I am a mandated child abuse reporter” as a reason to breach confidentiality.
  • Assure two-way communication: Let the youth know if you are going to share information that they told you.
  • Know the law.
  • Check for understanding: Ask the youth to explain what they understand about conditional confidentiality.
  • Document all communications, understanding, and actions.

Reporting requirements raise unique concerns for service providers who work with youth experiencing ARA, particularly around the issue of confidentiality.  When youth seek assistance and information about ARA, they may assume the information they share will remain confidential. Therefore, staff should be trained to notify youth and parents up front about these reporting requirements and their potential consequences before disclosures occur, so that youth and parents do not feel that their trust has been violated if such reporting occurs.

Tools in this section should be used to inform organizational policy about addressing ARA so that clear policy and procedures are in place; staff are trained on them; staff and their supervisors are knowledgeable about what is expected before information about ARA incidents is learned; and staff inform youth and parents in advance about limitations on confidentiality.

Sample Mandatory Reporting Policies and Protocols

APP projects implementing ARA prevention should develop reporting policies and protocols prior to training staff and implementing programming with youth. They should update their policies and protocols when laws change or when the original policies or protocols are found to be unclear or insufficient.

Helping Youth

An important step in responding to disclosure is to connect the youth to appropriate resources and services. Grantee organizations should develop policies and procedures for making referrals when disclosure occurs, including specific organizations to which referrals are made, how referrals are documented, and procedures for follow-up contact with the youth and/or the organizations to which referrals are made. Local referral resources are best. 

Here is an example of a teen safety card that can be provided to all youth participants and that includes resources.

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2. Selection and Adaptation of Materials to Address ARA

Who should use this section:

  • grantees who have never worked on ARA prevention;
  • grantees who would like to use different materials to address ARA than they have in the past; and
  • grantees who want to adapt existing ARA prevention approaches to better fit their needs.

APP grantees vary widely in their implementation structures, available resources, settings, and partners. Therefore, it is important that grantees who have chosen to address ARA in their projects are thoughtful in selecting an approach and materials that are appropriate. This section offers tools and practical guidance about how to select materials as well as registries that list programs addressing ARA, including individual- and multi-lesson programs. Grantees addressing ARA are not required to implement entire ARA prevention programs within their APP projects and may choose to select specific lessons or activities to best meet their needs.  Involving partners in choosing programs and materials before staff selection and training begins is highly recommended.

Grantees will likely want to make adaptations to the selected materials to best suit their unique needs and the needs of their communities. This section provides resources to inform the adaptation process, which may involve adapting existing evidence-based APP programs to integrate ARA prevention content or tailoring existing ARA prevention programs to meet the needs of the target population, project structure, or implementation setting.

2.1. Consider Relevant Selection Criteria

Grantees may want to consider selection criteria for materials to address ARA. Grantees should use the tools in this section to determine which criteria are important to their project so that they can assess ARA prevention activities against these criteria.

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2.2. Identify Potential Materials

During the planning stage for ARA prevention activities, and through review of relevant criteria, APP projects may decide that implementing an ARA prevention program is (or possibly is) a suitable approach to meeting their goals. An important next step is to review existing programs to determine which might be appropriate to implement. Some governmental and non-profit organizations maintain lists of programs that have been proven effective in preventing risk behaviors, including ARA. APP projects can use these lists to learn more about whether programs and approaches are suitable for the project’s target population; whether programs have been effective at addressing the risk and protective factors or outcomes that are important to the project; and whether programs can be implemented with available resources. Several of these lists are included below.

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2.3. Choose Materials: Individual Modules or Lessons

Identified below are individual lessons on various topics related to ARA prevention. Each lesson is approximately 45-60 minutes in length. Grantees addressing ARA should consider sequencing of activities and how each lesson is related to the existing APP curriculum or project activities being implemented. For instance, the lessons on gender stereotypes could be implemented early in an APP project because they provide a foundation for thinking about sexuality, sexual decision-making, and relationships.  Grantees addressing ARA should choose lessons based on their fit with the target population and planned implementation context (e.g., classroom subject).

Gender Stereotypes

Gender stereotypes are beliefs about roles that boys and girls should have. Beliefs in gender equality are important for youth to prevent ARA. The following tools offer different approaches to this important subject.

  • High School FLASH: Family Life and Sexual Health Grades 9-12, Second Edition HTML
    Reis, B. Aby, C., Casey, E., Gerber, A., Kesler, K., Lewis, M., et al. (2011). Public Health – Seattle & King County.
    Lesson 4 (Gender Stereotypes) is a 45-minute lesson in which students learn to define and identify gender stereotypes and how stereotypes impact healthy decision-making and relationships, including the potential for ARA. The session is mapped to the National Health Education Standards and the Washington State Health Education Standards; it is therefore ideal for grantees who want to address gender stereotypes in health classes. The lesson provides individual and family homework assignments to encourage thoughtful reflection. It also provides ideas for related activities in other subjects such as art and humanities.

  • The Hunger Games: Gender Empowerment Lesson Plan PDF (9 p.)
    Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. (2012).
    This lesson plan uses the popular young adult novel, Hunger Games,  to provide an engaging method for exploring concepts of gender, gender stereotypes, and gender equality. 
  • It’s All One Curriculum, Volume 2: Activities for a Unified Approach to Sexuality, Gender, HIV, and Human Rights Education (pp 32-53) PDF (196 p.)
    International Sexuality and HIV Curriculum Working Group (2009). New York: The Population Council, Inc.
    For grantees who want a lesson or lessons that delve deeper into the topic of gender, Unit 2 (pages 32-53) is an excellent resource from which to develop an effective unit for grantee local settings or target populations. This curriculum uses a human rights framework and focuses on fostering critical thinking skills. It is intentionally comprehensive, so grantees can select the content and activities that meet the needs of their project and time constraints.

Relationship Violence

The lessons below provide in-depth exploration of the dynamics of various forms of ARA, including physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. The modules rely heavily on scenarios to help participants understand how various forms of abuse manifest in relationships.

  • High School FLASH: Family Life and Sexual Health Grades 9-12, Second Edition HTML 
    Reis, B. Aby, C., Casey, E., Gerber, A., Kesler, K., Lewis, M., et al. (2011). Public Health – Seattle & King County.
    Lesson 6 (Sexual Violence) teaches youth to recognize sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, voyeurism, child pornography and exploitation, sexual harassment, and sexting (i.e., using text messages to share sexual content). It devotes considerable time to the issue of consent.  Through scenarios, the lesson explores the impact of alcohol and other drugs, body language, and force. The session is mapped to the National Health Education Standards and the Washington State Health Education Standards and is therefore ideal for grantees who want to address ARA in health classes. The lesson provides individual and family homework assignments to encourage thoughtful reflection.

  • Safe Dates: An Adolescent Dating Abuse Prevention Curriculum (Lesson 2) PDF (14 p.)
    Foshee, V., & Langwick, S. (2010). Center City, MN: Hazelden Publishing.
    Lesson 2 (Defining Dating Abuse) explores the issue of ARA by having students list physically and emotionally harmful behaviors, discuss scenarios, and review statistics. As described in Section 2.4, Safe Dates is an evidence-based ARA prevention program designed for 8th and 9th grade students. This lesson is available for free through Hazelden Publishing.

  • Dating Violence 101 Single Day Lesson Plan PDF (11 p.)
    Break The Cycle. (n.d.).
    This lesson addresses ARA by using a series of videos (available on YouTube) as the basis for group discussion about different forms of ARA. It provides participants with strategies for safely ending a relationship and for seeking resources for themselves or friends. 

Digital and Electronic Abuse

If grantees do not have time to address digital or electronic abuse with project participants, they should consider sending participants to That’s Not Cool, a national public education campaign to prevent ARA. That’s Not Cool uses digital examples of controlling behavior online and by cell phone to encourage youth to set boundaries about what is, or is not, acceptable relationship behavior.

Digital abuse is a growing form of ARA, particularly among youth. Such abuse can include unwanted, repeated calls or text messages, privacy violations such as breaking into e-mail or social networking accounts, and pressure to send nude or private pictures or videos.

Grantees addressing ARA should select modules that will resonate with their target populations. Knowledge about which technologies youth are using—and how—will help grantees to select appropriate lessons.

  • Digital Technology & Teen Relationships – High School Curriculum PDF (30 p.)
    Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
    This lesson helps participants identify digital abuse, provides strategies for coping with abusive or inappropriate digital behaviors, and supports helping others who may be in an abusive relationship

  • High School FLASH: Family Life and Sexual Health Grades 9-12, Second Edition HTML
    Reis, B. Aby, C., Casey, E., Gerber, A., Kesler, K., Lewis, M., et al. (2011). Public Health – Seattle & King County.
    Lesson 19 (Sexual Violence: Digital Communication and Safety) primarily utilizes written scenarios to help youth identify online behaviors that can put them at risk of experiencing sexual abuse. The session is mapped to the National Health Education Standards and the Washington State Health Education Standards and is therefore ideal for grantees who want to address ARA and technology in health classes. The lesson provides individual and family homework assignments to encourage thoughtful reflection. 

Other Lessons and Activities

  • Start Relating Before They Start Dating: A Workshop For Parents and Caregivers, and their TeensPDF (73 p.)
    Start Strong Idaho: Building Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
    This is a 2.5-hour family dinner model where youth and parents separately learn about ARA  and strategies for improving parent/caregiver-youth communication, including communication about ARA. Youth and parents then share a meal and practice communication skills. Targeted to parents and youth in middle school, it can be adapted for older audiences.  Grantees may want to use this program if they are interested in engaging parents in ARA prevention efforts but have had or anticipate difficulties in recruiting parents to attend activities in a group setting. 

  • Moving from a Relationship Bystander to a Relationship Upstander Workshop Guide PDF (16 p.)
    Start Strong Boston—Boston Public Health Commission and Futures Without Violence. (n.d.).
    This guide is geared toward parents of middle school youth but is also appropriate for parents of older teens. The goal of the 80-minute workshop is to help parents and caregivers encourage youth to respond to ARA and promote non-violent relationships among their peers. Grantees who already involve parents and caregivers in APP group activities or who are seeking a way to engage parents in a one-time session may be interested in adding this workshop.

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2.4. Choose Materials: Multi-session Programs

This section provides a matrix summarizing multi-session ARA prevention programs, including several evidence-based programs. These programs are designed to be implemented through a variety of methods for specific populations and in various settings. They each focus on particular risk and protective factors for ARA. Grantees addressing ARA may not be able to use entire multi-session programs, but may decide to incorporate select sessions or activities from a program. Grantees should consider the fit of the program with the target population, implementation setting and resources, and community needs; the ease of integration of the program with APP project activities; and whether the program has evidence of effectiveness for the population(s) targeted.


Target audience

Targeted domains

Number of sessions/time

Cost and training information

Evidence of effectiveness

Safe Dates: An Adolescent Dating Abuse Prevention Curriculum HTML(2nd ed.) 
Foshee, V., & Langwick, S. (2010).
Center City, MN: Hazelden Publishing.

Male and female middle and high school students

Evaluated with 8th and 9th graders


Defining healthy relationships and ARA

Understanding and reducing acceptance of ARA

Helping friends, including awareness of available services

Gender stereotypes

Understanding emotions and managing anger

Communication skills

Preventing sexual assault

10 50-minute sessions, poster contest, play

$225 per curriculum manual with CD-ROM

Training not required, but recommended to maintain fidelity of the program; training costs vary by region

Randomized controlled trial over 4 years (2) demonstrated:

Reduced psychological, physical, and sexual ARA perpetration

Reduced physical ARA victimization

Same effects regardless of prior ARA involvement

Same effects for males and females, and for white and non-white youth

Families for Safe Dates PDF (2 p.)
Hazelden Foundation. (2010).

Male and female teens and their caregivers

Evaluated with families of 13- to 15-year-olds


Understanding and reducing acceptance of ARA

Comfort and skills communicating about dating and ARA

Anger and conflict management

Recognizing and responding to ARA

Recognizing and preventing date rape

Planning for safe and healthy relationships

6 booklets for teens and parents to complete together at home

Sold as part of Safe Dates curriculum (see box above)

Training not required, but may be included in Safe Dates training

Randomized controlled trial over 3 months (3) demonstrated:

Reduced beliefs that ARA is acceptable

Increased caregiver engagement in ARA prevention

Reduced physical ARA victimization

The Fourth R: A Relationships-Based Program for Students HTML
Wolfe et al. (2008).

Male and female students in 7th through 12th grades

Evaluated with 9th graders

Alternative versions of curriculum are available to meet the needs of different populations


The 9th grade curriculum includes:

Personal safety and injury prevention

Healthy growth and sexuality

Substance use and abuse

Varies per grade level. For example:

7th grade: 4 units totaling 27 lessons

8th grade: 4 7-lesson units

9th grade: 3 7-lesson units

Each lesson is 75 minutes long


The cost varies by curriculum

9th grade Comprehensive Kit is $695 Canadian, approximately $675 U.S.

Training not required, but available through the developers

Randomized controlled trial over 2.5 years (4) demonstrated:

Reduced ARA perpetration among boys

Higher condom use among sexually active boys

The Youth Relationships Manual: A Group Approach with Adolescents for the Prevention of Woman Abuse and the Promotion of Healthy Relationships HTML 
Wolfe, D.A., Wekerle, C., Gough, R., Reitzel-Jaffe, D., Grasley, C. et al. (1996).
Sage Publications, Inc. 

14- to 16-year-olds with histories of child maltreatment

Information about healthy relationships, power dynamics, and ARA

Communication skills

Conflict resolution skills

Community resources

Social action

18 2-hour sessions delivered in a community-based setting

Curriculum manual available for $118.

Training is not required; the manual includes implementation instructions.

Randomized controlled trial over 2 years (5) demonstrated:

Reduced physical ARA perpetration

Reduced emotional ARA victimization and (for boys) physical ARA victimization

Reduced symptoms of emotional distress

Coaching Boys into Men HTML
Futures Without Violence. (2008).

Male athletes in grades 9 to 11


Recognizing and responding to ARA

Gender stereotypes

Personal responsibility for intervening when ARA is witnessed

Weekly, 10 to 15-minute discussions implemented by coaches throughout the sports season


Free for download; no training requirements

Randomized controlled trial over 1 year (6) demonstrated:

Reduced ARA perpetration

Reduced negative bystander behaviors (i.e., laughing and going along with peers’ abusive behaviors)

Building A Lasting Love HTML
Langhinrichsen-Rohling, J., & Turner, L. A. (2012). Prevention Science, 13(4), 384-394.

The full text of this article is available for purchase through the publisher’s website.

Inner-city, expectant adolescents

Developed and evaluated with African American youth from disadvantaged neighborhoods

Understanding healthy relationships and ARA

Safety planning

Anger and emotion management

Communication and conflict management skills

Stress management skills

4 90-minute sessions

Contact program developer

Randomized controlled trial over 6 weeks (7) demonstrated:

Reduced perpetration of psychological ARA perpetration

Reduced physical ARA victimization

Love U2®: Relationship Smarts PLUS HTML
Pearson, M. (2008). Berkeley, CA: Dibble Institute. 

Male and female students in grades 9 through 12

Healthy relationships, including love and intimacy

Personal values and identity

Peer pressure

Recognizing ARA

Communication skills

Conflict management skills

Parent-teen relationships

Personal responsibility


13 1-hour sessions

Instructor’s manual costs $360

Student workbooks cost $75/pack of 10

Training is recommended but not required; training can be customized to staff needs

Quasi-experimental evaluation (8) demonstrated:

Increased relationship knowledge

Reduced verbal aggression

Increased realistic relationship beliefs

Randomized controlled trial over 1 year (9), (10) demonstrated:

Improved relationship beliefs

Increased conflict management skills

Expect Respect: A School-Based Program for Preventing Teen Dating Violence and Promoting Safe and Healthy Relationships PDF (32 p.)
Ball, B., & Rosenbluth, B. (2010).
Austin, TX: SafePlace. 

Male and female middle and high school students

Vulnerable youth who have experienced ARA or violence in their homes

Understanding healthy relationships and ARA

Recognizing and responding to ARA

Gender stereotypes

Expressing and managing emotions

Communication and conflict management skills

Personal responsibility

Youth leadership and peer education

School-wide awareness of ARA and responsibility for ARA prevention


Program for vulnerable youth includes 24 sessions in a support group format

Program for youth leadership includes 8 1-hour sessions 

School-wide strategies include a school climate survey, school policies addressing interpersonal violence, and an awareness campaign.

$160 for four books and a CD of resources

No training requirements; training is available and can be customized to staff needs


Qualitative data (11) showed:

Increased knowledge about abuse warning signs and abusive behaviors;

Improved skills in building healthy relationships

Single group pre-post evaluation (12) demonstrated:

Increased healthy relationship skills

Reduced ARA perpetration and victimization among a subgroup of students who reported high pre-program levels of ARA perpetration and victimization

Love Is Not Abuse: High School Edition PDF (80 p.)

Male and female high school students

A version for college students is also available

Understanding and reducing acceptance of ARA

Helping friends and family members, including awareness of resources

Help seeking for ARA

Promoting healthy relationships

Digital abuse


4 45-minute lessons

Free for download

No training requirements

Not evaluated

Lessons from Literature HTML
Futures Without Violence, formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund.

Male and female middle and high school students

Understanding and reducing acceptance of ARA

Power and control in relationships

Responding to ARA

Personal boundaries and respectful behavior

Integrating ARA into Literature curricula


2 lessons are included in the manual, and teachers are encouraged to develop their own lessons using the provided template.

The 2 lesson plans included with the manual each take 3 weeks to complete using daily 55-minute sessions.

Free for download

Not evaluated

For projects that are hoping to implement ARA prevention programming in schools, a document that maps a program to national, state, or district educational standards can be a persuasive school recruitment tool.

Projects that are interested in creating a similar document for their school district and ARA prevention program of choice should do the following:

  • Identify relevant educational standards.
    • Standards may exist at multiple levels (national, state, or district).
    • Standards may cover a variety of topics: health, social-emotional learning (e.g., communication, decision-making, conflict resolution), or core academic subjects.
  • Review curriculum manual session by session and page by page to identify goals, objectives, and content that corresponds with educational standards.
  • Create document that summarizes correspondence between educational standards and program.
  • Share document with school administrators, school prevention and health education coordinators, teachers, or any other individuals whose buy-in is essential for program adoption and success.

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2.5. Adapt Materials as Needed

It is unlikely that any one ARA prevention program will be the perfect fit for incorporation into APP programming. A project may not have the resources to implement an ARA prevention curriculum as designed, or program content may overlook or contradict important cultural or logistical considerations for the APP target population. In these situations, APP projects may need to make program adaptations.

Even if ARA prevention programming itself does not need to be adapted, it is possible that the implementation of ARA prevention programming will constitute an adaptation to APP programming. For example, a project might want to implement an ARA prevention lesson between two lessons of an evidence-based APP curriculum. 

Regardless of whether it is an APP or ARA prevention program that is being adapted, adaptations should be made without compromising core components (i.e., key messages, content, and implementation requirements). Core components are not always made explicit in program materials, so grantees should strive to learn as much as they can about the intent of activities or programs they are using. Grantees should also follow all adaptation guidance issued by FYSB.

The tools in this section will guide grantees through assessing the need for adaptation, planning for adaptation, implementing and evaluating adapted programming, and refining adaptations if needed.

An APP project may be interested in implementing an ARA prevention program with a racial/ethnic group for whom that program has never been used or evaluated; the project may choose to make cultural adaptations prior to widespread implementation.

Several complementary frameworks are useful in planning cultural adaptations. First, cultural adaptation can involve modification to both surface structure (incorporating the observable characteristics of the target culture, like language or clothing) and deep structure (considering the unique ways that social forces impact health behavior within a particular culture).(13) Second, cultural adaptation comes in two basic forms: modifying program content and modifying the source, mode, or location of program delivery.(14) In order to take a balanced and complete approach to cultural adaptation, projects should consider all of these possible types of adaptations; examples are shown in the chart below.



Form of adaptation




Source, mode, location



Structural level of adaptation

Surface structure

Present ARA statistics specific to the target population.
Re-create visual aids (e.g., handouts, posters, videos) to include images of representatives from the target population.
Revise program text to use terms commonly used by the target population.

Tailor program for delivery in a setting that is easily accessible for the target population.

Deep structure

Discuss cultural values that may relate to ARA (e.g., related to masculinity/femininity, dating, helping and help-seeking).
Incorporate stories, analogies, and traditions from the target population.

Target population may be more receptive to receiving ARA prevention messages from individuals with particular demographic characteristics, backgrounds, or professions; hire these individuals as implementers.


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3. Preparation for Implementation

Who should use this section:

  • grantees who have not conducted staff training on ARA prevention;
  • grantees who need to re-train staff on their ARA prevention approaches; and
  • grantees seeking useful resources for project participants.

After selecting an ARA prevention program or materials to be incorporated in their project, grantees who want to address ARA should prepare for the implementation or use of those materials.  There are several steps that need to take place to ensure successful implementation, including orienting all staff involved in decision-making or planning around the project, selecting and training staff who will implement the new material, and ensuring that the project has adequate resources to distribute. This section will provide grantees with helpful tools to not only orient staff broadly on concepts related to ARA but also to build their confidence to implement materials. 

3.1. Orient Staff on ARA Issues

All staff who will be involved in planning and decision-making about grantee approaches to address ARA should receive education and orientation regarding ARA issues. Staff should understand the dynamics of ARA, its consequences, and how to address it with youth before planning and implementing ARA prevention content. Increasing staff knowledge about ARA content will benefit grantee projects by

The tools below can be used to provide universal education to staff when necessary.

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3.2. Select and Train Staff on ARA Prevention Approach

Selecting and training staff on the chosen ARA prevention approach are important steps in incorporating ARA prevention approaches into APP programming.  The goal of such efforts is to ensure that staff not only agree with the content of ARA prevention programming, but also have the knowledge and tools they need to successfully implement policies and programs. 

All staff, but especially staff facilitating ARA prevention content, should be trained in the dynamics of ARA, its consequences, and how to address it with youth. Training should be an ongoing effort, not a onetime event.  Staff skills will need to be refreshed, new research and best practices will emerge, new partners can offer new ideas, and staff turnover may occur. A detailed training plan should be developed and reviewed on an annual basis. 

Training staff allows them to feel invested in organizational policies and approaches to ARA prevention.  The following tools can be used to develop a training plan for incorporating ARA topics into APP projects as well as to build the confidence and competence of staff who will be implementing ARA prevention programming. In-person training for staff is ideal, and often local or state domestic and sexual violence organizations can help arrange such trainings.  If in-person training is not possible, the tools in this section can still help grantees to educate their staff. 

Training on ARA and implementation of ARA prevention content can trigger painful memories and feelings for staff. Talking about the sensitive topics of DV, relationship abuse, reproductive coercion, and the effects of ARA on youth can be emotional regardless of whether a person has had any direct experiences with abuse.  Project managers should be sensitive to possible trauma history when screening, training, and providing supervision and support to staff for implementation.

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3.3. Provide Resources to Youth

This section provides grantees with tools and resources they can use with youth and parents who participate in their projects.

Healthy Relationships

The materials below are appropriate for youth. They help promote healthy relationships by focusing on what healthy relationships should be. These resources can be used as is or adapted to grantees’ specific needs.

  • Healthy Teen Relationships Manifesto PDF (2 p.)
    Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
    This half-page, double-sided resource  describes youth’s rights and responsibilities to have healthy relationships and avoid ARA. It contains a quiz to help youth determine if their relationships are healthy and provides national ARA prevention resources for youth.  This is good to give out when using the Center for Healthy Teen Relationships lesson plans referred to in Section 2.3.
  • Healthy Relationship Bookmark PDF (2 p.) Spanish PDF (2 p.)
    Start Strong Idaho: Building Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
    This is a resource to go along with various curriculum modules. It describes characteristics of healthy relationships and signs of ARA.

  • Healthy Relationship Safety Card for Tribal Communities PDF (2 p.)
    National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and Futures Without Violence. (2012).
    Website for ordering the card for free HTML HTML
    This safety card aims to help Native and Indigenous women recognize healthy and unhealthy relationship dynamics and identify how their relationship may impact their health as well as the lives of their children. The card lists specific health issues that may be the result of chronic stress from an abusive relationship, offers suggestions to improve health and safety outcomes, and describes typical services provided by domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy programs. The card may be appropriate to distribute to female participants in APP projects. It contains a list of questions about unhealthy relationships and provides resources.

  • Hanging Out or Hooking Up Safety Card HTML
    Futures Without Violence. (n.d.).
    This safety card challenges all youth to consider how their boyfriend/girlfriend treats them by identifying dynamics of healthy relationships and signs that may indicate abuse.  The card also explores how to address excessive text messaging and identifies dynamics of consensual versus pressured sex, including the ability to use birth control. Tips are provided to support friends who may be facing ARA. The card is written in gender-neutral terms and may be used by females or males in either heterosexual or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer (LGBTQ) relationships. The card may be distributed directly to youth or stocked in specific locations, such as bathrooms or health care exam rooms, and is available for free in English and Spanish.  

How to Recognize ARA

The National Dating Abuse Helpline is a key resource to provide to participants.

  • Call 1-866-331-9474
  • Text “loveis” to 77054
  • Chat on
  • Work Together to End Teen Dating Abuse PDF (2 p.)
    Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
    This brochure provides information about warning signs for abusive relationships, strategies for responding to the abuse and helping a friend, and resources.  This tool is appropriate for teens who might be afraid their or a friend’s relationship is abusive. 

  • Recognize and Respond to Sexual Harassment PDF (2 p.)
    Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
    This brochure defines sexual harassment and provides information about warning signs of sexual harassment, strategies for responding to sexual harassment, and helping a friend. 

How to Help a Friend

These tools, developed by Break the Cycle, offer advice to young people who want to either discuss healthy relationships with their friends or reach out to a friend who is experiencing ARA. They can be used with all participants.

  • Help a Friend PDF (2 p.)
    Break the Cycle. (n.d.).
    This brochure gives practical tips on supporting a friend who is experiencing ARA and starting a conversation about healthy relationships safely and sensitively. 

  • How Would You Help? Quiz PDF (2 p.)
    Break the Cycle. (n.d.).
    This quiz provides scenarios reflecting on the best approach to helping a friend who is in an abusive relationship. 


  • How Can I Communicate Better? PDF (2 p.)
    Break the Cycle. (n.d.).
    This brochure gives young people tips for improving communication in their relationships, which may prevent abusive behavior.  

  • Conflict Resolution PDF (2 p.)
    Break the Cycle. (n.d.).
    This brochure describes the difference between conflict in healthy and unhealthy relationships. The two-page handout provides young people with examples of communication and conflict resolution in healthy relationships. It also provides tips for ensuring healthy disagreement as well as examples of how conflict can really be unhealthy or abusive relationship behavior. 

  • Healthy Break Ups PDF (2 p.)
    Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
    This brochure provides a quiz for teens to determine when they should break up with a dating partner, strategies for breaking up in a respectful way, and resources if the teen fears breaking up might be dangerous. 

Digital and Electronic Abuse

Digital dating abuse is the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk, or intimidate a partner. Often this behavior is a form of verbal or emotional abuse perpetrated online. In a healthy relationship, all communication is respectful whether in person, online, or by phone. 

  • Cellular Relationship Bookmark PDF (2 p.)
    Social Netiquette Bookmark PDF (2 p.)
    Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
    These bookmarks reinforce appropriate cellular behavior (like texting) and appropriate social networking behavior. Both bookmarks stress the positive—what good behavior looks like—but also address inappropriate behavior. The bookmarks are available in English and Spanish.  

Safety Planning

A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that can help a young person identify and avoid dangerous situations and know the best way to react when they are at risk of being abused.  Youth who disclose potential or actual abuse may not be ready to leave the relationship, but staff can help empower the youth with the knowledge of how to act in different scenarios. The tools below can be used by grantees to help the youth create a safety plan.

  • Love is Respect Safety Planning Guide HTML
    Break the Cycle. (n.d.).
    This interactive Web-based or hardcopy tool provides a comprehensive set of questions for high school or college victims to create a thorough safety plan. This tool can be offered to participants to use on their own (there are helpful informational icons along the way) or with a staff member. It is an interactive Web-based or hardcopy tool that provides a comprehensive set of questions for high school or college victims to create a thorough safety plan. This tool can be offered to participants to use on their own (there are helpful informational icons along the way) or with a staff member.
  • Create a Teen Safety Plan PDF (1 p.)
    Futures Without Violence (n.d.).
    This is a one-page guide that can be given to a participant for reference if they experience ARA. It provides tips about how to prepare to leave a relationship safely.

  • Teen Dating Abuse Safety Plan PDF (4 p.)
    End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (n.d.). 
    This safety planning guide provides questions for teens to answer if they are in a relationship or if they plan to break up with a partner. It walks teens through various scenarios and helps them prepare to respond. 

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3.4. Provide Resources to Parents

The resources in this section can be given to parents or caregivers any time, but they are especially helpful when grantees are beginning to implement ARA prevention activities. The more grantees can help parents discuss ARA with their children and reinforce the information young people receive through project activities, the more the information will be understood and utilized.

General Comprehensive Handbooks

  • Navigating Teen Relationships: A Parent’s Handbook PDF (24 p.)
    Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
    This comprehensive handbook for parents of high school students provides information about healthy relationships, appropriate online behavior, warning signs of ARA, and strategies for helping youth understand the issues. Some of the information, such as the description of the laws, is Idaho-specific but could be adapted for any community.  This is a comprehensive guide that would be good to provide to parents and caregivers following a parent education session on related topics.

    There is a similar handbook for parents of middle school students. PDF (11 p.)

Conversation Starters

The resources below are brief and are meant to provide parents and caregivers with ideas about to talk to children so they will listen. Specifically, these resources provide ideas about how to start conversations on healthy relationships and ARA.

  • Jane’s 20 QuestionsPDF (5 p.)
    Family Violence Law Center. (n.d.).
    This  is a list of conversation starters for a parent/caregiver and a youth.  Even if the parent/caregiver does not follow the game format, it provides a list of questions that can enhance communication and provide opportunities to discuss their values on a variety of difficult topics, including ARA. 

  • Conversation Cards HTML
    Futures Without Violence. (n.d.).
    These are cards with witty prompts that encourage parents to be involved in their teens’ lives and talk to them about ARA. With conversation starters and strategies to help parents help their teens, these are light-hearted reminders for parents. They can be ordered for free. 

  • A Parent’s Guide to Teen Dating Violence: 10 Questions to Start the Conversation PDF (8 p.)
    Love is Not Abuse. (n.d.).
    This tool provides suggestions to parents and guardians on how they can initiate a conversation with their teens about dating, ARA, and healthy relationships. 

  • Start Talking: Questions You Might Encounter PDF(3 p.)
    LoveisRespect and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. (2013).
    This handout offers answers to tough questions that youth often ask when learning about ARA for the first time. These questions and answers give adults an opportunity to prepare for conversations with teens and to give teens real answers to their difficult questions. This handout can be shared with parents, teachers, and other adults working with youth. 

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4. Monitoring and Evaluation

Who should use this section:

  • grantees who have never monitored or evaluated their ARA prevention efforts; and
  • grantees who are planning to implement ARA prevention and are considering ways to monitor their approaches.

As part of their overall  planning process, APP grantees who want to address ARA should consider plans to monitor program implementation and evaluate participant outcomes. Grantees could also make decisions to initiate or improve  monitoring and evaluation efforts after program implementation has begun. Regardless of the timing, the tools in this section will help with the process of planning for monitoring and evaluation of ARA prevention activities. The sample evaluation plan is the most general of the tools, presenting the various types of decisions that grantees should make prior to beginning their monitoring and evaluation efforts. The remaining tools can help grantees make decisions about specific measurement tools to use.

Grantees can use the tools below to identify survey items to administer to youth as part of outcome evaluation surveys. Here are some tips for how to decide between the many potential youth survey items:

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  1. Duplessis, V., Goldstein, S., & Newlan, S. (2010). Understanding confidentiality and minor consent in California: A module of adolescent provider toolkit. Adolescent Health Working Group, California Adolescent Health Collaborative.

  2. Foshee, V.A., Bauman, K.E., Arriaga, X.B., Helms, R.W., Linder, G.F. (1998). An evaluation of Safe Dates, an adolescent dating violence prevention program. American Journal of Public Health, 88(1), 45-50.

  3. Foshee, V. A., Reyes, H. L. M., Ennett, S. T., Cance, J. D., Bauman, K. E, & Bowling, J. M. (2012). Assessing the effects of Families for Safe Dates, a family-based teen dating abuse prevention program. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51(4), 349-356.

  4. Wolfe, D. A., Crooks, C. V., Jaffe, P. G., Chiodo, D., Hughes, R., Ellis, W., Stitt, L., & Donner, A. (2009). A universal school-based program to prevent adolescent dating violence: A cluster randomized trial. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 163, 693-699.

  5. Wolfe, D. A., Wekerle, C., Scott, K. Straatman, A. L., Grasley C., & Reitzel-Jaffe, D. (2003). Dating violence prevention with at-risk youth: A controlled outcome evaluation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71, 279-291.

  6. Miller, E., Tancredi, D .J., McCauley, H. L., Decker, M. R., Virata, M. C., Anderson, H. A., O'Connor, B., & Silverman, J. G. (2013). One-year follow-up of a coach-delivered dating violence prevention program: A cluster randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 45(1), 108-112.

  7. Langhinrichsen-Rohling, J., & Turner, L. A. (2012). The efficacy of an intimate partner violence prevention program with high-risk adolescent girls: A preliminary test. Prevention Science, 13(4),384-394.

  8. Adler-Baeder, F., Kerpelman, J. L., Schramm, D. G., Higginbotham, B., & Paulk, A. (2007). The impact of relationship education on adolescents of diverse backgrounds. Family Relations, 56, 291-303.

  9. Kerpelman, J. L., Pittman, J. F., Adler-Baeder, F., Eryigit, S., & Paulk, A. (2009). Evaluation of a statewide youth-focused relationships education curriculum. Journal of Adolescence, 32(6), 1359-1370. 

  10. Kerpelman, J. L., Pittman, J. F., Adler-Baeder, F., Stringer, K. J., Eryigit, S., Saint-Eloi Cadely, H., et al. (2010). What adolescents bring to and learn from relationship education classes: Does social address matter? Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 9, 95-112.

  11. Ball, B., Kerig, P., & Rosenbluth, B. (2009). Like a family but better because you can actually trust each other: The Expect Respect dating violence prevention program for at-risk youth. Health Promotion Practice, 10(1), 45S-58S.

  12. Ball, B., Teten, A., Noonan, R., Valle, L., Hamburger, M., & Rosenbluth, B. (2012). Expect Respect support groups: Preliminary evaluation of a dating violence prevention program for at-risk youth. Violence Against Women, 18(7), 746-762.

  13. Resnicow, K., Soler, R., Braithwaite, R. L., Ahluwalia, J. S., & Butler, J. (2000). Cultural sensitivity in substance use prevention. Journal of Community Psychology, 28(3), 271-290.

  14. Castro, F. G., Barrera, M., Jr., & Martinez, C. R. Jr. (2004). The cultural adaptation of prevention interventions: Resolving tensions between fidelity and fit. Prevention Science, 5, 41-45.

  15. Mihalic, S., Irwin, K., Fagan, A., Ballard, D., & Elliott, D. (2004). Successful program implementation: Lessons from Blueprints. Juvenile Justice Bulletin; Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

  16. Cutbush, S. L., Ashley, O. S., Kan, M. L., Hampton, J., & Hall, D. M. (2010, November). Electronic aggression among adolescent dating partners: Demographic correlates and associations with other types of violence. Poster presented at American Public Health Association, Denver, CO.

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Appendix: Additional Information and Research about Adolescent Relationship Abuse

This section provides more in-depth information about ARA.  Broadly defined as a pattern of abuse or threat of abuse against adolescent dating partners, ARA occurs across diverse groups and cultures. Although the dynamics of ARA are similar to adult DV, what makes ARA a unique problem are the forms and experience it takes as well as the challenges it poses in seeking and providing services.  ARA occurs in different forms, including verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, and digital; and the experience of ARA may have both immediate and long-term effects on young people.

The documents included in this section highlight the widespread problem of ARA, the different types of ARA, and its impacts on young people. These documents draw from various studies that use different measures. Therefore, data presented in these documents vary.  These resources can enhance grantee staff understanding and can provide the basis from which to develop grantee project materials.

Specific Populations

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ARA and Pregnancy

Reproductive coercion includes a spectrum of controlling behaviors that interferes with a person’s reproductive choices such as
  • explicit attempts to impregnate a partner against her wishes;
  • controlling outcomes of a pregnancy;
  • coercing a partner to have unprotected sex; or
  • interfering with birth control methods.
Grantees addressing ARA should consider integrating reproductive coercion into their APP projects. For instance, when defining different types of ARA, grantees can include an example of a partner poking holes in a diaphragm or flushing pills down the toilet. Likewise, discussions of contraceptive options can include information about reproductive coercion and pregnancy pressure and how such behavior may impact the choice of contraceptive method.

It is important for grantee staff to understand the link between ARA and unintended pregnancy for project participants.

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Digital or Electronic Abuse

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