Our approach to teen healthy relationships

For 15 years, we have been investing in teen healthy relationship programs; the last five of which have been multi-year investments. These grants focus on school-based healthy relationship programs and were developed as a key strategy to prevent violence against women and girls.

In these programs, teens learn the warning signs of abuse; which behaviours help to create a healthy relationship, ways to show mutual respect, and tips for making safe dating choices. Skills are taught through a combination of classroom work, discussion, role play and crafts. The work is often lead by trained co-facilitators, an adult and a youth,  so that participants feel like they are learning from peers.

A recent evaluation of these programs revealed some impressive results:

  • Eighty three percent of teens who participated in a violence prevention program said they learned how to recognize an abusive relationship and now know what to do if they or someone they know is being abused
  • Sixty percent used these new skills in their own dating relationships and credited the program with helping them to choose the right partner or leave an unhealthy relationship
  • Sixty per cent of students in a high school with a violence prevention program noticed a decrease in violence and bullying in their school and in the broader community.

Thanks to funding from Status of Women Canada, we launched a national learning strategy to share violence prevention initiatives and provide support for new and current programs for teens.

As part of this learning strategy, we hosted a series of events that will allowed organizations to share best practices and develop collaborative strategies and programs. These events included educational e-bulletins, webinars and a face-to-face meeting in Toronto – the National Skills Institute on Teen Healthy Relationship Programming , which occured in Toronto in February 2012.

Our two national Advisory Committees, which included consultants from current successful programs were central to this work. Through participation on these committees, youth leaders and program experts worked  together with us to shape and inform the best strategies and program supports.